Monday, September 27, 2010

DIY - Proud Mary's Potato Hash, Egg, Bacon, Spinach and Bagna Cauda

I found this recipe in Jamie Oliver's most recent issue of his magazine. He paid a visit to Proud Mary and proclaimed that it served the best coffee he had ever tried - period!

I've eaten this breakfast many, many times at the very popular Proud Mary cafe in Collingwood. I particularly love their Bagna Cauda sauce, which they serve with the perfectly cooked eggs and crunchy, yet soft potato hash. The sauce isn't as salty as you might think. The anchovies just provide the perfect seasoning with a bit of that lovely anchovy fishyness. Boiling the 8 garlic cloves in milk, also somewhat tones down the garlic flavour.

The trick to this breakky is all about timing. You'll need to have about 4 or 5 pans on the go at the same time, so if you enjoy a bit of pressure before breakfast on a weekend, this is a fun one to have a go at! Pity I can't make coffee at home as good as the one Jamie had at Proud Mary!

Serves 4

*4 Desiree Potatoes, peeled and halves
*1/4 Bunch chives, finely chopped, plus extra to serve
*About 50g of Butter, melted, plus 30g extra for the spinach
*12 Rashers of Streaky Bacon
4 Handfuls of Baby Spinach
4 Eggs

Bagna Cauda
8 Garlic Cloves
150ml Milk
25g Anchovies in a little oil
50ml single cream
1 small sprig of rosemary

1 Boil the potatoes in salted water until almost cooked, then drain, steam dry and set aside to cool. Do not overcook - you'll be grating the potatoes and want to grate into strands, not collapse. When the potatoes are cold, frate on the thick side of a box grater, Place in a mixing bowl and combine with the chives, then season well. Shape the mixture into 4 patties.

2 Get a pan of water on the boil, ready to poach your eggs. Place the potato cakes into a hot frying pan or grill plate. Flatted them down, spoon over a little melted butter and cook for 3 - 5 minutes, until crisp and golden underneath. Flip and shape into flat squares.

3 For the bagna cauda, simmer the garlic in 100ml of milk for about 5 minutes until soft, then remove with a slotted spoon, discarding the milk. Blend the anchovies, garlic, cream and 50ml of milk with a hand blender until smooth. Transfer to a pan then simmer the sauce with the rosemary until it thickens very slightly, keep warm.

4 Cook the bacon to your liking in another pan, wilt the spinach with the 30g butter and some black pepper. Poach your eggs.

5 To serve, place a potato hash on each plate. Top with a poached egg, then bacon and spinach. Drizzle generously with the hot bagna cauda.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Written On Tea, Sandy Bay, Tasmania

Nearly every Friday night here in Melbourne, Em and I head off to our favourite asian restaurant in Victoria St, Richmond. Since we were on holidays in Hobart, we obviously weren't going to be able to pop down to Victoria St. So our little Gourmet Traveller 2011 Australian Restaurant Guide came in handy once again.

We headed back to Sandy Bay, about 20 meters from another restaurant we visited earlier in the trip Shoga. The place was called Written On Tea. It was a strange little place, half of it in one room seemed like a really nice, swanky bar or restaurant and the other room, seemed like one of the cheaper unrenovated take away places on Victoria St, Richmond. Despite us making a booking, we were still seated in the dodgier looking, colder room at the front. On the positive side, at least we were getting a real Victoria St experience, in Tasmania!

We started with the Pan Fried Pork Dumplings. They were sticky little Gyoza type parcels, however somewhere along the line, somebody forgot to pan fry our pan-fried dumplings. They were as good as any I'd had in Melbourne - minus the lack of pan frying.

These little dumplings that we had next were very similar to the Shao-long Bao that you get at Hu-Tong in Melbourne. In fact, they could have been Shao-long Bao, because they had that little bit of broth in the bottom that burns your whole face when you bite into them and they explode!
They weren't quite up to the standard of Hu-Tong, but they were definately up there. After eating all the Gyoza type dumplings it was a bit of a struggle getting through these!

Finally we ordered some Duck with Basil and steamed rice. This was probably some of the best duck I've ever eaten. It was really delicious. The duck was lovely and tender. However, the basil wasn't what I was expecting. It was Italian style Basil, rather than Thai style Basil - which I found to be a bit odd, but seemed to work ok. Maybe they just read the recipe wrong? A tasty dish all the same.

The service left a lot to be desired, whilst most of the staff were friendly enough, they definitely weren't attentive and I had to get up to go to the counter to ask if I could order our food.
The room we were seated in was pretty cold, because the front door kept being opened for people coming in to get take away. We would have preferred to have been seated in the nicer room, especially since we'd make a booking. At one stage one of the waitresses came to us and said "ok, your table is ready now", so we thought we were getting moved to the good room. But the boss lady told the waitress off and we were told that the waitress made a mistake.

The food overall was above average and would fit in very nicely in Melbourne's China town. The prices were very reasonable and if you're after a cheap night out and aren't concerned about sitting in a not so sexy restaurant, then Written On Tea is a top spot.

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Choga, Sandy Bay, Tasmania

1/4 Russell Crs, Sandy Bay, Tasmania (03) 6224 4570

This was my first introduction to Korean food and I’d have to say that I was a fan! We’d heard that Choga do the best Bibimbap in Tasmania. By just looking at the tiny restaurant from the inside or outside, you probably wouldn’t believe that. But then again, how much competition around Hobart can they really have?

It was a freezing cold day outside, so a Bibimbap was definitely called for. If you’ve never had Bibimbap before, I found it to be I guess like a Korean Special Fried Rice. It’s sizzling rice in a piping hot bowl. Common toppings according to Wikipedia are cucumber, zucchini, daikon, mushrooms, spinach, soybean sprouts or tofu. There will usually be some kind of meat on there too like beef, chicken or seafood. The other usual topping is either a fried egg or a raw egg yolk.

When the dish is served to you, it literally comes out sizzling. I mixed up my rice and toppings which basically left it looking just like the Special Fried Rice that most Australians would be used to. It was the perfect lunch to have, while it was freezing cold outside. It wasn’t too much warmer inside, so it was great to have a warming meal.

When you get to the bottom of the bowl, the rice that has been sizzling on the bottom of the bowl is golden and crispy and adds to the many textures already in the dish.

Since I’d never had Bibimbap before, I don’t really have anything to compare it to, but it was very, very tasty and I’d definitely head back to Choga if I was in town again and in the mood for some Bibimbap.

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