Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ezard's Parmesan Oil

Ever been to Ezard's and tasted that amazing Parmesan Oil or stopped by that Olive stall in the Vic Market Deli and sampled some of Ezard's Oil there? ...and when you tasted it, did you think to yourself, "geez, I wish I had the recipe for that?" Well, wish no longer my friends, here it is!

It's so easy to make and it literally take minutes to do. I learnt this recipe from Ezard himself... he's a great teacher. Now, I don't want to mislead you here... when I say I learnt it from the man himself, he was actually on TV (fresh to be exact), not in my kitchen, weaving his magic.


1 Clove Garlic, Peeled
Some good Parmesan, including the rind, about 150g
2 Sprigs of Rosemary
Approx 150ml of Olive Oil

Place all the ingredients into a small saucepan and bring oil gently to the boil.
Once the oil reaches boiling point, turn it off, place a lid on the saucepan and leave to infuse for about 48 hours for the best results.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Home-Cured Salmon with Scrambled Eggs and Yarra Valley Salmon Caviar

Since, I can't afford Truffles to go with my eggs, like some people can, this is about as posh as my breakfasts will ever get in my house. As much as I love food and cooking, I can't see myself spending $50 on one breakfast. I'd rather spend $40 and have the Red Duck Curry at Pearl for dinner. So, here's my posh breakfast that I came up with with left overs from my weekend Ezard Challenge.
Basically just cook your scrambled eggs, with lots of cream of course and drape your perfectly cured salmon over the top. Sprinkle with some Yarra Valley Salmon Caviar and freshly chopped Chives and Bob's your uncle! I have to say, this is one indulgent breakfast. If you've never cured your own Salmon before, give it a shot. It's so easy and it takes about 36 hours while the Salmon is resting in the fridge. Lovely!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Chocolate, Mascapone, Orange and Vanilla Tart

I'd been wanting to make this tart for ages. I loved how it looked so rustic with it's lattice style pastry topping and how it's indented with chunks of chocolate. So, when I was invited over to a friend's house for lunch, I offered to bring dessert and this is what I made.

The recipe is from Jamie's Kitchen Book, but I also found it here (unfortunately in American Measurements), so I don't have to type it all up for you.
I used 80% Lindt chocolate in the mix and unfortunately I'd run out of Vanilla Beans, so I used the evil Vanilla Essence (Terrible I know, but the other flavours are so strong in this tart, that you hardly taste the vanilla anyway.)

I finally had success with making a tart shell and Jamie's recipe in his book worked a treat. Rather than blind baking it with beans or rice, I just kept the pastry in the mould, in the freezer overnight and blind baked it straight from there. This stops the tart from rising too much or shrinking. Much better than I've found blind baking with beans.
Admittedly, by the time I'd finished the tart, it did take a couple of hours to put together, but it was definately worth it. My friends were very impressed at the lunch and they asked me if I could leave the leftovers behind! (I left them half... I wanted more!!)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

LKM on Ferguson

42 Ferguson Street, Williamstown VIC 3016, T: 03 9397 6798

While most people head to Williamstown to check out Nelson Place or the Beach area, if you wander down to Ferguson St, one of the main shopping strips, you'll find quite a few other little little cafes which are well worth checking out. One of my favourites is down there- LKM on Ferguson. I've been visiting this place since I was little, it used to be called "Keith's" back then. I remember sipping on Carmel Milkshakes and eating the chocolatey foam from my mum's Cappacino. More recently though, the cafe was called Lever and Kowalyk, however it seems these guys have either sold the business or simply re-named to LKM on Ferguson.
I dropped by LKM this morning to find the name had changed, but the quality of the food seems to be just as good as always. I've only ever been here for breakfast and I'm a big fan of it.
This morning I ordered the Ricotta Hotcake with Macerated Strawberries ($10). You can order an extra hotcake for $3, but unless you're really hungry, I wouldn't bother. It's quite large and it's pretty filling. These hotcakes kick Bill's Hotcakes' arse! The strawberries are deliciously soft and with just a little sourness that gets your saliva glands going. The cakes themselves are thick, soft and not too gluggy.
My mate who I was with ordered the Croque Madame, which did look very tasty, served with some sautee'd Rocket on the side. I didn't have a taste (blokes don't 'taste' each other's food when they're out for breakfast). However he did mention that he wasn't a fan of the mustard that was spread on the bottom of the bread.
The service at LKM is very friendly and always helpful. The girls always make sure to stop by occasionally and make sure everything is ok and if you need anything else and the service is always with a smile- even when busy.

So, if you're near Williamstown for breakfast or would even consider driving a little further for a quality breakky, stop by LKM on Ferguson and enjoy some (almost) seaside goodness.

Hotcakes Melbourne can be proud of.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Rag Pasta with Pumpkin and Sage

This is a really great, easy pasta dish, which looks impressive and rustic all at once. It's perfect for a midweek dinner or for a vegetarian dinner party. I think the key to this recipe is to use really good instant lasagne sheets. I used Barilla and I thought they were really great. When you cook them in boiling water, they actually go quite thick.

500g lasagne sheets
50g butter
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
1kg butternut pumpkin, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (40g) grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons fresh sage leaves

Break the lasagne sheets into large pieces. Cook the lasagne in a large pan of boiling well-salted water until just tender. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid.Meanwhile, heat the butter and oil in a large non-stick pan, add pumpkin; cook, stirring gently, until pumpkin is just tender. Add garlic and thyme; cook, stirring, until fragrant. Season to taste with salt and pepper.Just before serving, add cheese and sage; gently toss through pasta with the reserved cooking liquid. Sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese flakes, if desired.

Leek, Gorgonzola and Rosemary soup

Here's a recipe I found on the BBC UK web site the other day, which I thought was a great little twist on the original Potato and Leek Soup. I love the idea of seasoning food using cheese. Blue Cheeses are quite often salty, so they make great substitutes for salt. These can be especially handy in Risotto, Pasta and of course soup. Just be careful that the stock that you use isn't seasoned before you make the soup, because this could mean your end result is over salty. Gorgonzola is a particularly salty cheese, so add it gradually and taste as you go.

4 rosemary sprigs
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
4 medium-sized leeks, sliced2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1.2 litre /2 pints hot vegetable stock
200g/7oz gorgonzola cheese, roughly chopped
½-1 tsp Dijon mustard
flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Lightly bash the rosemary sprigs with a rolling pin to help release the powerful aroma and flavour when cooking.
2. Heat the oil in a saucepan and stir in the potatoes and rosemary. Cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for 4-5 minutes. This will create some steam in the pan, preventing the potatoes from sticking to the base. Stir in the leeks and garlic, then cook for a couple of minutes until beginning to soften. Add the stock and bring to a simmer, leaving it to cook for 10 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat, take out the rosemary sprigs and stir in the gorgonzola cheese and Dijon mustard. It doesn't matter if the cheese doesn't melt completely as you now need to place the soup into a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth.
4. Season with salt and pepper, making sure you taste the soup first as gorgonzola is quite a salty cheese. If the consistency seems too thick, add some extra vegetable stock to loosen.
5. Serve with some fresh bread while the soup is still hot - walnut bread is really nice - or if you're not eating it straight away, gently reheat, being careful not to let it boil as this will give the soup a grainy texture.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Manchester Lane

36 Manchester Lane,Melbourne Ph 03 9663 0630

What a beautiful way to spend an evening, enjoying the sounds of an amazing local singer at one of the grooviest bars in town. Manchester Lane is known around the traps as the best Jazz Venue in town and rightly so. They have entertainment on there pretty much every night, supporting some of our country's best musical talent.
Rach had purchased us both tickets to see ex Leonardo's Bride singer Abby Dobson play one of her first shows since moving to Melbourne.

We discovered by checking out the Manchester Lane website that if you are there for dinner, you actually get one of the tables, right at the front (everyone else is behind you). If you have a quick look over their menu and you're like me, you will be thinking how good all the dishes sound. The menu actually reads like a really nice, slightly adventurous Melbourne restaurant. Bonus! So after reading the menu online we were definately up for having dinner there.

When we arrived, we were definately right about getting the good view. All the tables were at the front of the room and have a pretty good view of the stage. The wait staff seemed pretty excited to take our orders, as it seemed we were pretty much the only seated people to be eating. Did the other people know something we didn't? We decided to go with Mains and Dessert for tonight.

I ordered the Cumin chicken pollpetini in velvet white wine sauce, tossed with fresh tomato, garden peas, sugar snap peas and tagliatelle ($21). The only way I can describe this dish is slop! There was nothing velvet like about the sauce, it barely even tasted of wine. There was of course the over-powering taste of chicken stock. Tomato? There was supposed to be Tomatoes in there? Oh, and the Cumin Chicken 'meatballs'? There was so much Cumin in there that it was like eating Curried Pasta. Not good.

Rach ordered the Morton bay bug meat tossed with Squid Ink pasta in lemon butter sauce ($23). This dish was slightly tastier, but I wouldn't really call the sauce Lemon Butter Sauce. It literally tasted like a Lemon was squeezed over the top of the pasta. There wasn't that much Bug Meat in there either and it was more like Squid meat, than Bug meat.

For dessert, Rach ordered Honeycomb semi freddo wrapped in bitter dark chocolate leaf with peanut butter cookie and 42 below "Manuka" honey vodka syrup ($12). Admittedly this was presented a little better than the earlier meals. The Vodka syrup tasted like drizzled honey more than anything else. The honeycomb semi freddo was actually quite decent too.

Silly me thought I would go for the simple option and they wouldn't be able to mess it up. So, I chose the Vanilla crème brulee with house baked apricot brioche ($12). The crispy golden sugar crust on top of the Brulee was perfect. Cracking with a little tap of my spoon. Underneath though, lurked the dreaded overcooked custard. Creme Brulee is meant to be 'just' set. This was well over cooked and was like a sweet omlette. The house made Apricot Brioche wasn't like any Brioche I'd tasted before. It kind of fell apart when i picked it up and was dry, yet doughy at the same time. I only had one bite and left the rest.

So, overall the night was great, the entertainment was amazing, the venue was perfect, but the food was a huge let down. The quality seriously reminded me of the food what was cooked when I was at TAFE, not by myself obviously, but by the people who failed the course! It's one thing to be able to write a great sounding menu, but it's another to be able to pull it off. The venue needs to either hire new kitchen staff, write a simpler menu or get Gordon Ramsay in from 'Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares' and get him to sort it out.