Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pad See Ew

Only 2 more days to go until Christmas and I think I am getting the flu! For the first time this year as well. What a great time to get it!

Hopefully it won't last long, cause I won't be very happy if I am sick on my one week of holidays!

Anyway onto the food. Pad See Ew is one of my go to dishes when I am not inspired to cook anything. It's such an easy dish to put together and so tasty. This recipe is from one of the books that I got from a Thai cooking school in Chiang Mai.

I was watching Poh's kitchen the other day and she said that when you are stir frying dry noodles to soak them in cold water rather than hot water, otherwise they stick together when you cook them. I never knew this and I tried it and it worked perfectly.

I didn't have a chance to go to the Asian grocer to get the thick rice noodles (which I love and I always use when cooking this dish) so I tried substituting the pad Thai type dried noodles instead. They worked out pretty well, although if you can get the thick rice noodles, then buy them.

All the ingredients ready to go

It's best when cooking this that you have everything ready to go, as once you get going you don't
have much time to stop and do anything.

Stir frying the chicken

Adding in the Gai Larn

Then add in the rice noodles once you have stir fried the veggies for a bit

Add the sauces (I didn't get a chance to photograph that stage) and then the egg

A bowl of comfort ready for a dash of srirarcha.

You can add some other veggies to this if you like. Carrot is always good, but make sure it's slightly cooked before you add it, otherwise it won't cook in time.

Pad See Ew

400 grams chicken (or pork)
200 grams fresh noodles (or a packet of the dried rice noodles)
4 cloves of garlic
Chinese vegetables (any type you like)
4 eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1. Soak your noodles in a big bowl of cold water

2. Heat up oil in pan and then add garlic and chicken. Stir fry until the chicken is cooked.

3. Add the chopped chinese vegetables and wait until they have wilted slightly

4. Add the noodles and stir fry until just tender

5. Add sugar, soy, kecap manis and oyster sauce and fry until all mixed in

6. Move the noodle mixture to the side and add the egg mixture. Leave it there until it cooks a bit and then scramble into the rest of the noodles.

7. Serve with some chillies/chilli sauce.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cafe Sopra 2

Cafe Sopra has to be one of my favourite restaurants in Sydney. I have previously blogged about it here. I have never had a bad meal there, I just wish you could book a table! Especially since we had to drive back to Canberra after lunch and didn't want to be waiting too long for a table.
We planned on getting there just before 12, so we could get a good table, but the traffic from Parramatta to Waterloo was terrible. So we ended up arriving close to 1pm..
We went up past Fratelli Fresh, where a cooking class was going on, and put our names down for a table. The wait didn't end up being too bad, being only about 20 mins. We did have to share a table, but there was only another couple at the other end of the table, so we ended up having more room than if we had a table to ourselves. The table was right in front of the menu board too, which meant we could take a bit more time looking at all the options they had, rather than standing in front of it wondering if we were in anyone else's way.

It's best to get there early if you want to have your pick from the menu, as items do sell out. There were a couple of things already crossed off the board when we got there, and a few more things were crossed off as we got up to leave.

I think everything is really well priced here too for the quantity and quality that you get. They also have carafes of Italian wines which are so cheap and easy to drink.

Zucchini Flowers stuffed with 5 Italian cheeses - $4.50 each

We decided to start off with a zucchini flower each. These were so delicious and piping hot! The cheese was very creamy and I would definitely only be able to eat one of these. I am not sure what all the different cheeses were either.

At this point I remember reading somewhere that someone said that they got asked not to take photos here, so I was quite hesitant with my photo taking from this point...(no one asked me to not take photos by the way...)

Meatballs with Tomato Sauce - $20

These meatballs were huge! They were unlike any meatball I had had before either. I am pretty sure they had cumin in them, there was a curry like quality to them. The pasta was so good too. We ended up buying a packet of this pasta from the shop as well.

Papperdelle with Salsicce and Peas - $18

Frankie went with the Papperdelle. I was tossing up whether to get this, so I am glad he chose it. How delicious does that look! It was all mixed together perfectly so that you got a bit of everything with each bite.

I really wanted to order a dessert at the beginning of the meal, but after eating the pastas, mixed with the zucchini flowers, I was almost bursting!

I think next time we will get one pasta and a salad to share, so I can try that banoffe pie!

They also have other outlets around the city, but I have never been. After lunch we went to Fratelli fresh and bought lots of fruit and veggies to take back to Canberra with us. All the fruit was so lovely and sweet and not expensive at all.

Cafe Sopra
7 Danks Street
Waterloo NSW
No bookings allowed

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bavarian Bier Cafe - Parramatta

We were in Sydney a couple of weeks ago for a wedding in the Parramatta area. I had not been to Parra for ages, about 8 years I think when I used to work there. It hadn't changed too much, but I did notice a lot of restaurants down the main street. Although maybe I am not used to the abundance of restaurants in coming from a place like Canberra.

I did walk to the Parramatta Westfield too, which was massive, and I have never seen so many women with prams! I am not talking single prams either, most of them had space for at least 2 children.

It's always tough trying to find restaurants to go to when we come back to Sydney, as there are so many different ones I want to try. We always try and go to places that you can't get that type of food in, in Canberra, which is a lot.. Sydney is definitely spoilt for choice when it comes to food.

We hadn't had German food for ages, so while we were on our way to Sydney we called up the Bavarian bier cafe and booked a table for two!

The weather in Sydney that day was terrible, as it had been for all of the week, so it wasn't pleasant walking around the streets. Luckily our hotel was in the same street as the restaurant, so we didn't have far to go.

There are a couple of entrances to the place and we happened to walk in the wrong one where there was a function going on. I saw a bouncer there and thought it was quite strange for a restaurant to have a bouncer...

Once we found the right entrance, we were seated in a booth with very comfortable chairs. I could have sat there all afternoon, and then we got some beers! I love Weissbier and I usually get the mango flavoured one to start and then move onto the real stuff, but as I didn't want to have too much to drink, as we had a wedding to go to, I just got the one beer.

I wanted to get a pork knuckle, but I couldn't see it on the menu, unless I totally missed it, so I went with the tasting platter instead.

Bavarian Tasting Platter - $25.50

This was so good and well priced I thought! I loved all the different types of sausages on the plate and the sauerkraut was amazing. It all went so well together.

White sausage with mash underneath

Crispy Pork belly and Schnitzel. The pork belly wasn't melt in your mouth tender, but it was pretty close and the crackling was delicious and crispy. The schnitzel was probably the tastiest one I have had too and was so moist. I would definitely order this again.

Garden Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette - $11

We also decided to get a salad, as the food was quite heavy that we needed something healthy to go with. The salad was nothing fancy, but had heaps of veggies in it which was great.

Wiener Schnitzel with Sauteed Potatoes and Herb Mayonnaise - $27

Frankie went with the classic veal schnitzel. He said it was lovely. I didn't try any cause I already had schnitzel on my tasting platter and didn't want to use up more space with more schnitzel! i tried the sauteed potatoes, but they weren't really to my liking.

Luckily just before the wedding the weather cleared up for the day. The ceremony was scheduled to be in a park, so no alternative arrangements had to be made!

Bavarian Bier Cafe - Parramatta
2 - 8 Phillip Street
Ph: 02 8836 1400

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lemon Salmon Pasta

I am very excited as I was reading an article on a news website about how SBS will be bringing a lot more food shows onto their program next year. The Food Safari series will now be focusing on French and one of my favourite shows - Anthony Bourdain No Reservations will be coming to SBS 2. I used to watch it all the time on Foxtel, but I don't have Foxtel anymore so don't get to watch it :( 2011 is going to be a good year for food!

But back to my recipe book of the moment - No time to cook! Comes this easy pasta dish.

Very few ingredients are needed and most of them should be in your pantry if you cook pasta dishes.

I made this the other week and it was so tasty and good that I made it again a few days later... Well I had to use up the dill that I bought.

Salmon is my favourite type of fish to eat (well really the only type of fish I eat, apart from tuna) and I love Dill. Dill is apparently one of the easiest herbs to grow as well. It is also a great companion plant for cucumbers, so I think I will have to plant some in my garden and start pickling some things!

Lemon Salmon Pasta - From Donna Hay's No Time to cook

200g Thin Spaghetti
1/4 cup (60ml) cream
2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice (which is about 1/2 a lemon)
2 Teaspoons Dijon
1 Tablespoon chopped dill
1 Tablespoon salted capers
175g hot smoked salmon fillet, flaked

1. Cook spaghetti in salted boiling water for 10 - 12 minutes or until al dente

2. Drain and return to the pan.

3. Add cream, lemon juice and dijon and toss to coat

4. Stir through salmon, capers and dill and serve immediately

How easy is that! Thanks Donna!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Choc Chip Cookies

I had seen a lot of recipes around all the blogs for choc chip cookies recently which got me wanting to make my own! Choc chip cookies are my favourite type of cookie, as long as they have got heaps of chocolate in them, and these ones do. I am not one to usually put anything else besides chocolate in my cookies either, so if you want to add anything else then it's up to you.

The recipe says it makes 16 cookies, but I think I got about 19 and they were big chunky cookies too, so if you like your cookies smaller (so you can eat more) then it will make about double this.

I usually have all these ingredients lying around at home which is great to satisfy my cravings!

All the ingredients ready to go

Creaming the butter and sugar

Whisking the egg before mixing into the batter

Adding the dry ingredients

Adding the choc chips!

Put on a tray lined with baking paper

All brown and gooey!

Choc Chip Cookies

125g Unsalted butter
185g (1 Cup) Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Egg, Lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon Milk
215g (1 3/4 cups) plain flour
1 Teaspoon Baking powder
250g (1 1/2 cups) Dark Chocolate Chips

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a couple of trays with baking paper

2. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl using electric beaters. Mix in the vanilla and gradually add the egg beating well. Stir in the milk

3. Sift the baking powder and flour into a large bowl and then fold into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the dark choc chips.

4. Drop tablespoons onto a baking tray and bake in oven for about 15 minutes, or until turning brown. Cool on wire rack.

I love cookies on their own or mashed through some vanilla ice cream! yum!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Firestone Pizza

My sister was going out to dinner one night with her friends and I asked her where she was going, she said Firestone in Dickson, and I was like there is no Firestone in Dickson. I was positive that I had never seen it, but sure enough she was right. I hadn't even noticed it on the many occasions we eat out in Dickson.

So when we felt like Italian one night, we decided to try out the non existent restaurant.

It is in quite an obscure place (hence my inability to see it). You would only see it if you walked past it and not from the other side of the street.

The restaurant is quite narrow and poky and has a massive bar in the main part where we were sitting. The computer where they input all the meals was right next to us too, so we constantly had a waitress standing next to us which was a bit intrusive.

But enough about that and onto the food! We both felt like pasta, but as it's a pizza place we felt obliged to try the pizza. So instead of getting entrees we got a pizza to share.

Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil and Fresh Tomato - $10.90

After receiving this I was very glad that we ordered pastas and weren't just eating pizza. While the topping was very tasty, the base was so dry and crunchy. I don't know if all the pizza bases are like this, but it was terrible.

Luckily the start of the meal didn't set the standard for the rest of the meal.

Pappardelle with flaked Osso Bucco in rich beef and red wine gravy - $19.90

Whenever there is pappardelle on the menu I am sold! This was really good too it tasted like home made pasta. The meat was not as tender as I would have liked, but all the flavours were wonderful. They didn't overload you with pasta either so that you are completely full after eating it.

Roquette, black olives, tomato, goats cheese feta, red onion salad - $13.90

We had to get a salad as well, and although I thought the price quite expensive for a salad, it was really good. We ended up eating the whole salad too, which normally never happens.

Spaghetti with poached chicken, preserved lemon, crisp sage and goats cheese - $18.90

Frankie went with the poached chicken pasta which he was very happy with. It was quite tasty, but I wouldn't have swapped it for the pasta I chose.

Vanilla Bean Brulee with Shortbread - $11.90

We decided to share a dessert, as we both can't usually eat a whole dessert to ourselves. The Brulee was so good and the custard was packed full of vanilla bean specks. I think I ate more than my half share as it was so delicious. I would definitely order this again.

Not 100% a great meal, but next time we go there we will steer clear from the Pizza. There are a lot of pasta options and tapas style dishes which I would be interested in trying.

Firestone Pizzeria
Shop 1, 14 Woolley Street
Dickson ACT
Ph: 6247 447

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Penne Amatriciana

I was very excited today, cause I had a parcel to pick up from the post office and I knew exactly what it was. A couple of things I have been wanting for ages. After I had bought my kitchen aid food processor the next things on my list were a dutch oven and a cast iron grill pan. I went with chassuer over creuset though, as creuset is twice as expensive and the only difference I can see is the lifetime warranty.

So here are my two latest kitchen additions!

And here is my helper in the kitchen! More like he just lies right in the middle of the kitchen.

So I had as my plan to cook a Penne Amatriciana for dinner and thought what better way to christen my new pot!

I love tomato based pastas and this one is so easy as it doesn't take too long to make the sauce at all and then you just mix all the cooked pasta through it.

First fry up some onion. You can use either brown or red, I had a red onion, so I used it.

Then add the garlic and the bacon (you can use either bacon or pancetta here)

Once the bacon has fried for a bit add the tomato paste and 2 tins of tomato and some chilli flakes

These are my favourite tins of tomatoes to use at the moment. They are from the wonderful place called aldi.

Then you simmer it for as long as you like. I like to add in about a tablespoon of sugar here too and some salt and pepper to taste, cause I like the sweetness.

Then you add in the cooked pasta and some fresh parsley. Serve with some grated parmesan.

Penne Amatriciana

1 Onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
200g Bacon, diced
1 Tbs Chilli Flakes
2 Tbs Tomato Paste
2 Tins Diced Tomatoes
Penne Pasta
Fresh Parsley

1. Add some olive oil to a pan and add the diced onion. Cook for a couple of minutes

2. Add the garlic, bacon and chilli flakes. Cook until the bacon is browning.

3. Add the Tomato paste and diced tomatoes and simmer for about 20 mins. Add sugar, salt and pepper to season. While this is cooking you can boil the pasta.

4. Drain the pasta and toss through the sauce. Add the parsley. Serve with some grated parmesan.

I usually serve mine with a simple salad of rocket and avocado.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ayam Bali

This is a really easy recipe that is really tasty. I usually use chicken in the bone, but I find them really hard to find at the moment. Even at the markets where they have a chicken shop, the only thing you can usually buy on the bone is drumsticks. I used to buy chicken thigh cutlets all the time, but can never find them now :(

So this time I just used thigh fillets cut up, which is still good, but doesn't beat meat on the bone. I know I should probably use a whole chicken and cut it up, but I am always scared that I will make a big mess of everything.

All you need to do is blend some of the ingredients to make a paste, fry that off and then add your meat of choice and other ingredients and leave it to simmer. I will serve this with some stir fried Asian greens as well, which goes really well with it.

I made a bit of a mistake while making it. I put 2 tablespoons of sambal in it rather than 2 teaspoons, so i thought it was going to be really spicy, but it wasn't bad at all. So if you like your food a bit spicier I would increase the amount of sambal you use.

Ingredients for paste

Blend them all together - I have a mini bowl in my food processor which works very well for this.

All blended!

Stir fry to cook out all the spices

Add chicken and other ingredients

Ready to eat!

Ayam Bali
Balinese Fried Chicken

4 Chicken portions (or 500gm thigh fillets)
1 Onion
2 Garlic cloves
4 Kemiri nuts (candlenuts)
2½ cm fresh Ginger
250 ml Coconut milk (ayam brand is the best)
1 tbs Kecap Manis
2 tsp Sambal Ulek (add more if you like spice)
1 tsp soft brown sugar

1. Puree the Onions, Garlic, Ginger, Kemiri and Sambal Ulek in a blender or pestle.

2. Heat some oil in a large, deep frying pan and brown the chicken on all sides for about 10 mins. Remove chicken and set aside.

3. Stir-fry the puree for 5 min. in the same frying pan. Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil.

4. Add the chicken and simmer for 30 min. until tender. Season to taste. Serve hot.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lamb Cutlets with Couscous and Ratatouille

I was watching Poh's kitchen the other day for the first time in ages. I always seem to miss when it's on, so I have only seen a few shows out of the season. You can watch the episodes online at the show's website too, so I need to catch up on the ones that I have missed out on. I am hoping to get her cookbook soon cause I love the way it is presented and want to try a lot of the recipes.

On this episode she had her friend Emmanuel who seems to feature a lot on her program. Poh cooked this delicious pork dish and he cooked a slow cooked lamb dish with a side of couscous and ratatouille. I haven't cooked much with couscous before and I don't know why, cause it's such an easy grain to cook with and you can do so many variations with it. Although in the recipe on the website it doesn't specify the exact amount of water to use and I ended up using too much and had to start again.

The couscous is delicious and so light and pairs very well with the ratatouille and lamb. I didn't cook the slow cooked lamb, but used some lamb cutlets that I got from Aldi (which were sensational) and marinated them in some olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and rosemary for a few hours. The marinade was delicious and gave the cutlets a nice crust from the caramelisation of the red wine vinegar.

Couscous Salad - Adapted from Poh's Kitchen Website

200g Couscous
2tbs Olive Oil
1 Green Capsicum - diced
1 Lebanese Cucumber - diced
2 Tomatoes - flesh and seeds removed and diced
2 Shallots (I forgot to add these) - diced
2 Lemons (I think I used only 1 as mine was quite big) - juiced
1 Small bunch of Coriander - chopped

1. Put the couscous in a bowl and add olive oil, salt and pepper, and just enough boiling water to cover it (don't add too much otherwise it will become claggy). Leave for about 10 minutes for the water so soak up.

2. Fluff up the couscous and add all the other ingredients and then season to taste. So easy!

Ratatouille - Adapted from Poh's Kitchen Website

1 Brown Onion
2 Garlic Cloves - sliced finely
1 Red Capsicum
1 Small Eggplant
1 Zucchini
Tin of crushed tomatoes
2 Sprigs of Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
Chopped Parsley
100ml Vegetable Stock

1. Dice all the vegetables in chunks (My favourite way of dicing vegetables!)

2. Add some olive oil in a pot/pan and saute the onion for a minute and then add the garlic

3. Add the capsicum for a few minutes and then add the eggplant and zucchini.

4. Finally add the crushed tomatoes, vegetable stock, thyme, bay leaf, and salt and pepper.

5. Cook on low heat for about 20 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.