Saturday, May 26, 2007

Parmesan Encrusted Blue Eye with Oven Roasted Radicchio and Pan Cooked Parsnip and Potato Rounds

Geez. The title of this dish is a bit of a mouthful, considering how simple it is to put together. I'd never had Raddichio prior to making this dish, but while wandering around my local grocer, I spotted it and thought I'd give it a go. I can't say I was a huge fan though - it was really too bitter for my liking.
I came up with this dish after cooking Ezard's Cheddar Encrusted Blue Eye and thought I'd give it a try with some different vegies. I had no idea how to cook Radicchio, so I got a little cooking method out of The Cook's Book.
This dish is pretty easy to put together, but you'll have to have three different pans on the go at once and you'll need to use your Stove Top, Grill and Oven. Tricky!!

Ingredients: (Serves 2)

2 Blue-Eye Fillets
1 Potato, Thinly Sliced and Parboiled
1 Parsnip, Thinly Sliced and Parboiled
1 Small Head of Radicchio, washed and leaves separated.
2 Tblspn Ghee or Clarified Butter
1 Tblspn Butter
Grated Parmesan
Salt, Pepper and Olive Oil


  1. Blanch your Radicchio in boiling water and then refresh in iced water. Season your Radicchio and place in a oven proof fry pan with some butter. Grate some Parmesan on top of the Radicchio. Place on the bottom shelf of your preheated oven for about 10 minutes.

  2. Once this is in the oven, start to fry your potatoes and parsnip rounds in a fry pan with the melted Ghee and turn over when golden. Cook until golden on both sides and the place on kitchen paper.

  3. Season your fish on both sides, then in a oven proof fry pan, fry your fish in some olive oil, skin side down until nicely golden. Flip the fish over and then place in a preheated oven (180c) until just cooked - about 5 minutes or so, depending on the size of your fillet. You should try to time your fish to come out of the oven at the same time as your Radicchio.

  4. When you fish is cooked, quickly grate some Parmesan onto the skin side and place under a grill, preheated to the hottest temperature. Grill until golden.

  5. Plate up your potatoes and parsnip first, alternating with one of each, in a circle. Place the Radicchio on top and then your fish. Garnish with some Parsley and drizzle the plate with some Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Orecchiette with Broccoli and Anchovies

Here's a famous Italian recipe, that if you haven't tried before, you should definately have a go at making. There's hardly any ingredients in it, but it has maximum flavour. Who knew that Broccoli could be so tasty! This is such a quick and easy recipe, it's perfect for midweek dinners. One word of advice though, don't use cheap and nasty Orecchiette. Use good quality, authentic Egg Pasta that you get from Italian Deli's and Supermarkets like Piedemontes. This will make all the difference to your meal.


400g orecchiette
1 head broccoli, broken into small florets
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Knob of Butter
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 - 8 large anchovy fillets, chopped
Teaspoon of Dried Chilli Flakes
freshly ground black pepper
100g freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the orecchiette until al dente.
About 3 minutes before the pasta is cooked, place the Broccoli in with the pasta, it wont take long to cook at all.
While the pasta and Broccoli is cooking, prepare the Broccoli and Anchovy sauce.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan with the anchovies, mashing them with the back of a spoon.
Add your chilli and garlic and lightly fry for a few minutes until fragrant.
Add the drained Broccoli, Pasta and pepper and stir to mix and heat through.
Add the Cheese and Butter to the pasta and mix thoroughly into the hot pasta and serve immediately.

Baileys and Banana Bread and Butter Pudding

It's pudding season again. Those lovely, steaming hot bowls of sweet goodness that help us get through those dark and chilly months. If there was ever a video game made about me, I would want a big bowl of pudding to be my energy booster.

I was flicking through Jamie's Kitchen the other night and came across this great recipe for Bread and Butter Pudding with a twist. Instead of just your plain old Bread and Butter Pudding, for a bit of extra flavour Jamie has added some Baileys to 'adult' it up a bit and some Banana - which always goes well with bread. I love Banana Jaffles, so it had to taste great. I had some left over Babka egg loaf, so I used that in the recipe. I really should have cut off the crusts, but seeing they soaked up the custard so well, I didn't think there was any point.

The recipe below was taken from the link above:


Serves about 6

1/2 a loaf of pre-sliced white bread, crusts removed
55g/2oz or 1/4 pack of butter, softened
140g/5oz caster sugar
seeds from 1 vanilla pod
8 free-range eggs
500ml/18fl oz double cream
565ml/1 pint milk
4 shots of Baileys
5 bananas
4 tablespoons flaked almonds, toasted until golden
icing sugar to dust

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
Flatten each slice of bread down as flat as possible.
Butter each piece thinly but thoroughly with the softened butter, then cut the slices of bread in half and put to one side.
In a bowl whisk together the sugar, vanilla seeds and eggs till pale and fluffy, then add the cream, the milk and the Baileys and whisk until smooth.
Slice up your peeled bananas and lightly toast your almonds in the preheated oven.
Take an appropriately sized baking dish (or you could do individual ones) and rub the sides with a little butter.
Dip each piece of bread in the egg mixture then begin to layer the bread, the sliced banana and the almonds in the baking dish.
Repeat until everything has been used up, ending with a top layer of bread. Pour over the rest of your egg mixture, using your fingers to pat down the bread to make sure it soaks up all the lovely flavours.
Generously dust the top of the pudding with icing sugar and bake in the oven for around 35 minutes or until the custard has set around the outside but is just slightly wobbly in the centre.
Allow it to cool and firm up slightly.
Some people like to serve it with ice cream or double cream, but if you get it gooey enough in the middle then it is nice just on its own. Feel free to take this recipe in any direction you like - using raisins or dried apricots or different types of bread like brioche or pannetone.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Basement, 115-117 Collins St, (ph)1300 799 415

This was my second visit to the much hyped Fifteen Melbourne. My first visit was the night that it opened to the public last year. We thought being so lucky to get a booking on the public opening night, we would have been sure to see Jamie in person, maybe even watch him helping out at the pass. Unfortunately, Jamie left earlier that day, to return to his family in the UK - how inconsiderate. At that time, I hadn't started my blog yet, so I don't have any photos from that night to show you. I can tell you though that we paid about $100 each that night for a set menu. We really felt that night, that the meal was over priced, especially since we didn't get the added bonus of seeing Jamie!

While reading Epicure on Tuesday this week, I noticed that Fifteen have a lunch special happening at the moment; 2 courses and a glass of local wine for $28. That sounded like a great deal to me. One problem though would be, last I heard the place was booked out for months in advance, so I was hesitant about even bothering. I'm glad I did though, because when I called and asked if they had any availability for 4 people on Thursday or Friday, they said they had plenty! I wonder if they are having trouble pulling a crowd? Maybe once everyone has been once - that was enough?

We arrived at our 12:30 booking, after battling our way through a rare Melbourne down-pour.
Down the stairs we trotted, past the fish bowl window at the bottom of the stairs which looks into the kitchen. Fifteen is a beautifully designed restaurant which is set across 3 rooms. The first is the long bar area, which has a huge colourful wall of wines featured behind it.

The next room is one of the 2 main dining areas. This one is light and bright, with a view, directly into the beautifully equipped, very large kitchen. The room has a grand, golden framed mirror on the back wall. The third room is a darker room, with dark wooden chairs and tables and is more intimate than the others.

We are offered the menus by our waiter, who kindly explains the menu and the lunch deal. The lunch deal that we're after only comprises of two choices from each of the Entree, Pasta/Risotto and dessert menus. You can choose any of the two courses for the set price. We decided to go with the Entree and Pasta option, rather than Dessert.
Two of us ordered the Bruschetta of sautéed forest mushrooms and shaved parmesan, which was simply just the best! The bread was nicely toasted, with just the right amount of charcoal. The Mushrooms themselves were amazing, they were just like the ones Jamie talks about on his shows. Perfectly sauteed and dressed in Olive Oil and a touch of lemon juice. The whole thing was topped with some Rocket leaves and shavings of Parmesan.
The other guys ordered the Butternut Pumpkin Squash soup. This soup was so thick, you could literally eat it with a fork. It was chunky and sweet, with pieces of Parma Ham and Barley throughout. Just the thing to warm the cockles of your heart after being soaked in the rain.
Since I had the Mushrooms for entree, I passed on the Mushroom Risotto and ordered the Pappardelle with braised shin of beef ragu and orange and rosemary gremolata. I would have never have thought to put orange rind into a Beef Ragu, but it definitely worked! I'd never even heard of such a combo before, but it was great. The orange taste wasn't over powering, but it was definitely present, keeping your taste buds buzzing and cutting through the heaviness of the meat. The combo apparently wasn't for everyone as my friend who also ordered this, wasn't a huge fan. The pasta was perfectly rolled and was silky smooth. Delicious!
The other guys on the table did order the Risotto of seasonal mushrooms and melted fontina cheese. It was of course, 'oozy', just like Jamie would have it. The rice was perfectly cooked and nicely seasoned, helped along by the Parmesan mixed through. The same wild Mushrooms seemed to be used in this, as were on my Bruschetta.
The first time we visited Fifteen, we were kind of disappointed. Simply because we had such high expectations of the food - especially for the $100 per head. We didn't think at the time that the food was worth paying that much for and told ourselves that we were paying for the experience more than anything else. But after visiting for a second time, I realised that Fifteen isn't out to do 'fancy food'. If you want fancy, then go to Ezard (of course), Pearl, Longrain, etc. What fifteen does is pretty much traditional Italian food, but it is done well- extremely well, using brilliant ingredients - the best available. The kids there and their trainers do a great job of preparing the food and they should be applauded for their efforts on how far they have come.

The $28 lunch time meal is brilliant value for money and it's really worth taking advantage of while it's available. While we didn't see anyone famous again this time - (not even Tobie) we left very happy and looking forward to returning again soon.

Top Notch, Back to Basics, Great Value Lunch

Friday, May 18, 2007

Red Onion and Fennel Frittata

What to do with leftover Fennel? Frittata of course! This is a really tasty recipe I came up with the other night when struggling to put something together with what I had left in the house and trying to avoid needing to go to the supermarket. This is a great dinner or lunch for one. If you want to make it more substantial, you might want to consider adding some cooked, sliced potatoes to the mix. It was kind of influenced by Fifteen, after I visited there for lunch, although


1/2 Red Onion, thickly sliced
4 Free Range Eggs
1/4 Cup of Cream
Half a Bulb of Fennel, finely sliced
1 Clove of chopped Garlic
Handful of Grated Parmesan
Some good Balsamic to drizzle
Fennel tops to garnish
Sea salt and Fresh ground pepper

  1. Beat your eggs, cream, pinch of salt and pepper until well beaten and pale yellow.

  2. Cook your onion slowly in a small oven proof frying pan until almost soft.

  3. When almost soft add your sliced Fennel bulb and chopped garlic.

  4. Pour your egg mix into the pan and slowly cook for a few minutes.

  5. Transfer to a preheated oven (180c) and cook for a couple of minutes until the eggs are just set.

  6. Take your pan out and grate Parmesan over the top. Quickly grill until the Parmesan is melted

  7. Slide your Frittata carefully out of the pan onto a plate, drizzle some Balsamic Vinegar and sprinkle some chopped Fennel Tops. Delicious!

Monday, May 14, 2007


23 The Esplanade, Torquay, (03) 5264 8455

Remember Nikki Buckley from Sale of the Century? Well, Growlers is her place, right across from the beach in Torquay. The restaurant-cum-bar has been one of the town's most known eateries for quite a few years now- frequently making it into The Age Cheap Eats guides. So, on a shopping visit to Torquay on the weekend (it was way too cold for a swim!) we thought we would drop by and see what all the fuss was about and maybe even get a glimpse of Tony Barber's old co-host.

Despite the cool breeze coming off the water, the sun was shining, so we decided to sit out the front in the courtyard. The courtyard has a great view of the beach across the road. The tables were all filled as it seems most people were going out for lunch on mother's day eve. Not a bad idea - you're bound to save a few dollars, rather than going out on real mothers day.

We counted 5 waitresses and waiters that were servicing the courtyard area. Despite the large number of workers, we saw quite a few people customers arrive and be seated, order and receive their lunch by the time we even received our menus. After 15 minutes of waiting, we had to call a waiter over to ask for a menu. After another 15 minutes, we had to call the waitress over, as she was about to walk past us for the fourth time. She took our orders and trotted off. We haven't had much luck recently with service. We don't ask for much, just that we get some menus when we sit down and when we're obviously ready to order (note that the menus are on the table and we're trying to catch your eye, we're probably wanting to order.) do you're best to make it over as soon as you can to take down what we want.

Anyway, after our ordering debacle, we received our meals after a short wait. I ordered the late breakfast, which was Bacon, Eggs how you like, tomato and Hash Browns served on Sour Dough. The toast was delicious, although slightly under toasted, the bacon was good, not over-cooked. The eggs, were nicely poached and were perfectly runny, although, they did lack any real body. By that I mean, they were the flattest poached eggs I've ever seen. Must have been poached in shallow water in a frying pan, I'd say. The Hash Brown was nice enough, but it was a pre-manufactured one, from what I could tell. Not sure why a restaurant wouldn't make their own - they're pretty easy to make. My one problem with the breakfast was the tomato. It had been cooked in the same pan as fish had been cooked and the tomato really tasted like fish, the taste was over-powering. Either the pan hadn't been washed or not washed properly.

Rachel ordered a special of Local Mussels in Tomato Sauce, with sour dough rolls. Rach reckons that the Tomato sauce was awesome- really sweet. However, there were quite a few Mussels that hadn't opened, which shouldn't really have been served, considering we're paying for them and that they are inedible. The kitchen also hadn't gone to the trouble of scrubbing the Mussels either. The Mussels were pretty dirty and a few had some weird looking growths on them.

Growlers, overall, was an average experience. The service was slow, but when they did appear, they were relatively friendly enough. The food was quite good, but was let down with a few details that could have easily been avoided. Given it was a Saturday morning, I'm guessing that most of the crew had been out at the local pub the night before and really didn't want to be at work that morning. Fair enough I guess - we all feel that way sometimes. Oh, and surprise, surprise, Nikki Buckley wasn't there. Maybe she doesn't like fishy tomatoes either??

Waiting too long for fishy tomatoes

Monday, May 07, 2007

Roast Baby Beetroot Risotto

Coming into the cooler months, beetroot is coming into season now, so I thought I'd put together this lovely Risotto. I won't bother giving you the recipe, because Risotto is mostly your basic recipe, and then you add whatever flavour you like to it.

For this risotto I just roasted the Baby Beets at 200c until they were soft, which took about an hour and chopped them up and mixed it into the risotto. I also sprinkled some Dill through and topped with some sour cream. The flavours are really the main flavours you would find in a Russian Borsch. So, what you have here is essentially a Russian Risotto - who would have thought? Look at the amazing colour of this dish!

Saturday, May 05, 2007


87-89 Acland St, St Kilda. Ph 9525 3232

I know a few words in Italian, however, I'm not sure what 'Rococo' actually translates to in English. I can tell you though, that Rococo, the restaurant is a great place to go for a fantastic, cheap Italian dinner. Rococo is situated on busy Acland St, nestled amongst the glorious cake shops that the street is so famous for. Rococo, is quite a long room, which can fit quite a few people in there on a busy night, however it doesn't feel crowded even during a weekend rush hour.
On Saturday night we arrived at Rococo without a booking, so when we entered, the waitress explained to us that they had a table for the 2 of us, but as they were quite busy, we would have to be prepared to wait for our meals once we ordered. Nobody likes to wait, but at least we were warned before we were seated, which I think Rococo should be praised for. The waitress seated us right near the big open fire, which was perfect on such a cool, rainy Autumn night.
For starters we ordered a couple of plates to share. Deep Fried Calamari, with Green Salad and Home Made Aioli was first. The Calamari was so tender and crunchy and a pleasure to eat. None of this chewy, fish n chip shop Squid Rings.
The second starter we ordered was Bread, topped with Caramelised Onions with Marinated Olives. The Caramelised onions were so sweet and the bread so soft. It was similar to Turkish bread and quite possibly could have been. The olives were all different types, with all different shapes, colours and sizes. Eating these olives were like eating savoury fruit salad, so many flavours! Oh... I forgot to mention, there was hardly any wait for our starters and by the time we had finished them, our Mains were pretty much already on their way! If anything, they were served too quickly. So much for having to wait.
The delicious food continued through to our Main Courses. I ordered the Slow cooked Veal Osso Bucco, which was flaked into a tomato sauce as a ragu and mixed into some authentic Papardelle. The serving was huge and there was no way I was going to be able to finish it after our great starters. The veal was so soft and the tomato sauce cooked slowly, so that it had become sweet. The dish was finished off with some basil pieces and some shaved Parmesan.
My dinner date ordered the Gnocchi, which was topped with Mozzarella, Basil and Tomato Sauce. The dish looked amazing. The Gnocchi was soft and fluffy, while again, the Tomato sauce was rich and sweet. A basic Italian dish, done pretty much to perfection. The great part about Rococo, is not only the food and the great service, but the price. We left, rolling out the door and our total bill for dinner and drinks was $65. Usually at most places you get what you pay for, but at Rococo, you get more! The service is a standout also. The staff are always there to make sure everything is OK, that you're happy with your meals and that you're glasses are always topped up.
Rococo may not quite be a fine dining restaurant as such, but if you're after a classy night out with friends or even an intimate meal with a loved one, Rococo would be perfect. The heart warming Italian food, is basic, but done amazingly well and perfectly suited to a cold Melbourne night. Belissimo!

Roma in St Kilda

Friday, May 04, 2007


150 Alexandra Ave South Yarra. tel 03 9827 0488

While I'm on the theme of visiting weird buildings converted into cafe's, I thought I'd give Kanteen a visit for breakfast. Kanteen is apparently a converted toilet / change block, down by the yarra in South Yarra. It's in a great spot, and the building itself looks amazing, but unfortunately, that's about all the positive things I can say about this place.
Rach and I arrived at about 11:30 on a Saturday morning and the place was busy, inside and out, despite the European Wasps buzzing around the outside tables.
When we walked in through the front door, we asked for a table for 2. Firstly, the girl told us that she couldn't help us and that we would have to wait for the 'person who seats people.' When 'that' person appeared, we again asked for a table for 2. "Well, there's a table outside with one seat there, go and get that and I'll go and get you another seat" so we went outside and Rach sat down, while I stood there for 10 minutes waiting for my seat to arrive. It didn't, so I went inside and found my own seat and took it out to our table. After about another 15 minutes, we still hadn't even received menu's, so I went inside and asked for some. Once we had decided what we wanted, we waited another 10 minutes for someone to come and take our order. When the very young waiter arrived we gave him our order and I enquired about which T2 teas were on offer, he replied "I can't remember, there's a few." He didn't even offer the names of maybe one or two of them. Funnily enough, I thought it would be his job to remember what tea there was for sale. I asked for peppermint tea and he actually had to go and check to see if that was available!
After, honestly about 20 more minutes of waiting, I saw someone walk out with what looked like our order, wander around aimlessly for a couple of minutes, then wander back inside. Another 5 minutes passed and then our original waiter came back with those same two plates and said "is this your's?"
I asked, "well what is it?"
Sure enough it was our food that had been out of the kitchen for probably almost 10 minutes by now. The waiter said, "sorry, we wasn't sure where it was supposed to go." He was the one that took our order!!
Sure enough our food was almost cold, but there was no point sending it back, we didn't have the rest of the afternoon to waste waiting around for food.
Rach ordered the Poached Eggs on Rye Melts with ham, cheese and tomato. They were certainly very pretty eggs, with huge pieces of chives to garnish and sprinkled with black pepper. The eggs though were overcooked. The yolks had no runnyness left in them, this was probably due to sitting under the pass' heat lamps for too long and continued to cook. (see photo)
I ordered the Spanish Eggs , oven baked with Spanish Goat's Cheese, Chorizo, Napoli, Basil and Pamesan on Pide. This dish was the epitome of being overcooked. The Parmesan on top was dark, hard and dried out. The inside wasn't much better, the eggs were WAY over cooked. So overcooked they were crumbly, (you can see this in the photo). My peppermint tea would have helped me swallow this dried out meal, but our drinks didn't arrive until we had almost finished eating!
This place has so many problems going on, that it's just not funny. Most of the staff seem inexperienced or just don't care. However there was one girl, with a slightly hippy appearence and piercings that was amazing, unfortunately she wasn't our waitress, but she was doing everyone else's work for them, while they wandered around aimlessly. I wanted to go up and give her a pat on the back. The management here need to either hire more staff like this, or they just need to hire more staff. The staff there at the moment cannot handle the pace at all.
The kitchen staff need to pay more attention to what they are sending over the pass and how long it sits there before it goes out. You can put as many fancy things like Spanish Eggs, or Black Sticky Rice on the menu, as you like, but when it comes down to it, it's the quality of the food and service that matters.
For some reason though, as bad as the service and the food was, this place was busy. Mostly with yummy mummies from Chapel st and other cool types. I guess that means that Kanteen is a place to be seen, rather than to go to if you want a nice breakfast.
Nice view. I want my money back!!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Heads Up!

Just in case you haven't visited for a while, or didn't even know it was there, check out my cooking project, The Ezard Challenge at I've just updated it with a couple of recipes I've recently tried. I'd love to hear what everyone thinks.

Also, while I'm here, I just wanted to say a big thankyou to everyone that has linked to my humble little blog here. It's truly an honour to know that there are people out there who are reading what I write and admiring my photos. Your positive comments make it all worth while, so thanks!!