Friday, November 16, 2007

Fish Pie

I just bought the 'Delicious' 5 nights a week book, by Valli Little, which has some really interesting and easy dishes to cook mid-week. I'd never made or even tasted fish pie before and even though it was under the 'kids favourites' section, I thought I would give it a wurl.
It's not the quickest dish to put together and was well over an hour before it was ready, but it certainly was tasty. I imagine you you posh it up a bit, by adding some other types of seafood in there, maybe some Prawns, Bugtails, even Lobster if your wallet was that way inclined.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 200g boneless white fish fillets
  • 200g skinless salmon fillet, pin-boned (ask your fishmonger to do this)
  • 450ml milk
  • 750g desiree or pontiac potatoes, peeled, chopped
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbs (40g) flour
  • 150g frozen peas
  • 1 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lemons
  • 50g grated cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  2. Place fish in a baking dish, season with salt and pepper and pour over 400ml milk. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes until fi sh fl akes away slightly when pressed with a fork. Remove fish, reserving milk. When cool enough to handle, fl ake fi sh into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender. Drain and keep warm. Melt half the butter in a saucepan, stir in flour and cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Slowly add reserved milk and continue to cook until thickened. Add fi sh, peas, parsley, egg, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  5. Mash the potato with the remaining 50ml milk and the remaining butter until smooth, then season. Pile the fish mixture into a 1 litre-capacity baking dish, spoon the mash on top and smooth with a spatula. Trace a pattern into the mash with the tines of a fork and sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


To be honest, I never in my life thought I would make a Lamington from scratch. And here we are today and I have made my first batch and it probably won't be my last.
It's a bit of mucking around, dipping your little sponge cakes into the melted chocolate icing, but the finished product it's worth the effort. Your friends will be impressed to boot!


Sponge Cake:
6 eggs
150 g (51/2 oz/2/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
200 g (7 oz/12/3 cups) self-raising flour
30 g (1 oz) unsalted butter, melted

Chocolate Icing:
500 g (1 lb 2 oz/4 cups) icing (confectioners') sugar
200 g (7 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
15 g (1/2 oz) unsalted butter
125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) milk
375 g (13 oz/4 cups) desiccated coconut

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Lightly grease and line the base of an 18 x 28 cm
(7 x 11 inch) tin with baking paper.

To make the cake, beat the eggs for about 5 minutes with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is thick and the sugar has dissolved. Sift in the flour and fold in lightly. Add the butter and 3 tablespoons of hot water and stir gently to combine. Pour into the tin and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

To make the chocolate icing, put the sugar, dark chocolate, butter and milk in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir constantly until melted and mixed together.

Cut the sponge into 16 squares. Put the coconut in a bowl. Dip each sponge square into the chocolate icing and then in the coconut. Leave on a wire rack to dry completely before serving. Makes 16

Poached Salmon, Pea and Risoni Salad

Ok, you could possibly call me a hypocrite. First I was bagging out Bill Granger and his terrible cafe, then I was telling you how good they are. Now I'm telling you how good his cook books are. Bill's books aren't filled with the most adventurous dishes, but they are perfect for someone who's just getting into cooking or for us seasoned 'foodies' who want to eat some proper home-cooked food after a long day at the office.
This recipe is from his most recent book - Holiday, but I have also found it online here.
I'm no nutritionist, but this is a pretty healthy meal as far as I'm concerned and highlights how fast food, doesn't have to be burgers and chips. Poached salmon has got to be one of the best ways to enjoy salmon, as it's so moist, with little chance of overcooking and when cooked, it simply flakes apart for this little salad.
I didn't have any Dill as the recipe asked for, so I used some Mint in it's place. Mint goes perfectly with Peas and Salmon, so give it a go if you prefer. Such a great Spring Salad.

Monday, November 05, 2007

North Bondi Italian Food

When there's sun and you're in Sydney, where does one go? Bondi Beach of course!! After sunning myself on Australia's most famous beach for a few hours, I'd worked up quite an appetite. My friend told me that there was some great food and people watching to be had at North Bondi Italian Food. NDIF is at the opposite end of Bondi Beach from the famous Icebergs Club and lives below the North Bondi RSL club (click the link to check out the view from the RSL above).
NBIF has the best view I have ever seen from any restaurant before, it looks straight down onto the beautiful Bondi Beach, sprawled with tanned bodies from all over the world. Not only are those bodies on the beach soaking up the sun, but they're in NBIF, soaking up the atmosphere.
The place was packed when I arrived, so I was lucky to score one of the mini tables just near the front window.
A little bowl of unshelled peanuts was waiting for me on the table and another little bowl for my shells. The waiters, some of which were very italian, wore some very weird short overalls, which looked like they were supposed to be trendy, but if I had to wear them, I wouldn't be happy at all. But despite their strange attire and the busyness of the restaurant, the staff were lovely and were constantly visiting my table to make sure everything was ok and that I had enough water. They were even consistantly coming by to take away my empty peanut shells.
The menu is big and so much to choose from. I went for the Orrechiette with Ricotta, Basil and Cherry Tomato. ($26)I thought this was the perfect choice for a hot spring day, and it was. This was such a basic pasta dish, but it was so tasty and so fresh. The ricotta sauce was a little dryish, so I was glad I ordered the Rocket and Fennel Salad ($9) on the side, which kind of helped lighten up the meal.
Once I'd finished the pasta and salad, I was silly enough to look at the dessert menu. Silly because I was so full, but couldn't resist the of the North Bondi Gelato ($14).
A huge bowl of Lemon, Strawberry and Chocolate Gelato arrived on my table, with a cute little italian flag in the top. It was all so sweet, but so cold and so good. But as gorgeous as it was, there was no way I was going to finish it. I did get through at least half though.
To sum up NBIF in a word, I would say 'beautiful.' The view is beautiful, the people are beautiful and most importantly, the food is beautiful.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Bills, Darlinghurst, Sydney

Back in February this year, I paid my first visit to one of Bill Granger's Sydney restaurants. It was Bill's in Surry Hills. My meal there was terrible, I couldn't have been more disappointed, hence my scathing review.
For some reason though, on a more recent visit to Sydney, I felt compelled to try another of Bill's restaurant's, this time the Darlinghurst version- just to see if it was all really that bad. Now, even though I had read Mellie's Review of Darlinghurst, I thought I'd pay a visit anyway.
I arrived at Bills at about 10am on a Thursday morning and was suprised to find that the place was almost empty, apart from two other tables of people. Score!
The cheerful waiteress greeted me at the door and told me that I could sit wherever I liked. I sat next to a nice big window, which had a leafy view out onto the Darlinghurst Street.
This time 'round I ordered the Ricotta Hotcakes with Banana and Honeycomb butter and a breakfast juice.
Since I was here solo on this occassion, one of the waiters were kind enough to point me towards their magazine collection for something to read, instead of blankly staring out the window.
My after about 5 minutes, my Hotcakes arrived and amazingly this time around they were infact, hot! The hot cakes were delicious. They were just light enough, with the perfect ratio of chocolate/honeycomb to butter. Being that the restaurant was so quiet, it was a relief that they got my breakfast right. I can see now why Bill's is famous for his hotcakes.
The service this time around was fast and friendly and the food was spot on.
I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, but 2 days after my visit to Bill's Darlinghurst, I also visited Bill's in Woolhara. Woolhara is very different to the others. This version is set up in a courtyard of a small shopping mall on the main shopping strip and a majority of the tables are outside.
I'd suggest if you're after the real and original Bills vibe, go for the Darlinghurst option - definately the best of the three.