Tis the season for cocktails and parties!! When you look at cocktail recipes, many of them call for sugar, or simple syrup. It's just equal parts sugar and water boiled down to make a syrup you can use to quickly sweeten cocktails without having to deal with sugar having to be dissolved. The added bonus is that you can flavour them so you can add more complex flavours into your drink.
I made these for my sister last year for Christmas, in 3 flavours - strawberry, orange and peach. They're ludicrously easy and cheap to make, and look gorgeous as a gift! All you have to do is make sure you have air tight, sterilised (either put through a hot cycle on your dishwasher, or washed in hot soapy water and left to dry WITHOUT you touching the cap or the rim!) bottles, and a fine sieve.
My bottles (I got them from a home brewing shop for about $3AUD each) were quite small and held about 250ml each so I used about double that amount of water, and free poured a healthy amount of sugar in that looked like about half to me - you can obviously be a lot more accurate! This is the first step to any sugar syrup, must be done before you add any fruit to the pan - you'll see how I made each flavour below.
I used all the peaches we had in the house as they were looking a bit worse for wear and I didn't really want to eat them - so I used about 5 of them! Put them whole in the pan making sure they were mostly submerged. If they're not just pop in every now and again to move them around in the water. I used a fork to smoosh them up to extract as much flavour as I could.
I topped a big punnet of strawberries that were on special and put them whole into the water. You'll notice after a while the strawberries will lose their colour. Once this has happened, take them out and continue to reduce the syrup until you're happy with the amount.
I zested 2 oranges and then juiced them, and added it to the water. This was then boiled down until it was reduced by about half.
Its important that you store these in the fridge - as they do contain a lot of fruit and sugar. The plain version can be kept any old place, but fruity ones, in the fridge! You can see there is some separation in the peach syrup - just make sure you give it a good shake before you use it!
These can also be used to give Greek yoghurt an edge when serving it with cakes or on your muesli in the morning, or added to soda water to make your own cordial. How delicious would it be to drizzle some orange syrup over a chocolate cake fresh from the oven? The sky is the limit with these sweet compact flavour bombs!
I'd love to know what else you can use these for aside from cocktails!
Weekends = breakfasts. Sometimes out, sometimes spending time at home making something awesome. Usually with Jack Johnson in the background, and considering the theme of this post, and the fact that my fella is a big fan of pancakes, it's often this song playing.
I had a need for a slow Sunday morning. Saturday consisted of waking up real early (for me anyway) at 6:30am for a 7:30 arrival at Subiaco Farmers Market to help out the lovely Wade of Mr Drummonds Foods who sells the most delicious crumpets known to man! Freshly made and organic, he serves them grilled in butter with local beer or rosemary honey, or Royale style, with Over the Moon creme fraiche and Yanchep blueberries. Holy shit, you won't know what just happened. Anyway I sold a bunch of them, it was super fun. It was really nice to speak to other stall holders, chat with the regulars, sell some bircher museli to Caitlin Bassett and hang out with a rogue chicken. I drove home, and picked up the fella to head straight on over to the Mane Liquor carpark festival. This means BEER time! They had a bunch of brewers, Mitch fromBeersine sampling his mindblowing beer cheese (YES! Beer and cheese, together at last! Have used it stuffed into soft white bread with bacon before, also the recipe that was submitted into the Beaufort St Festival Recipes and Ramblings Cookbook!), plus some hot sauce, ciders, wines and some of the harder stuff! I ended up leaving with 8 ciders, a beer and a round of the seasonal Beersine which was washed in a Saison (can't remember which one though *facepalm*). I tried some of the pale ale cheddar, on a cracker with some local hop honey and it was phenomenal, washed down with the HopWired IPA. Get that stuff in your face, it's better than you imagine. After the beerfest? Beaufort St Fest! That was cool, I saw so many friends, doing so many great things - Crust Pizza launching new stuff and serving free pizza on a giant multiperson bike, Laura from Yelp giving out a million fans to the sweltering punters and spreading the good work about Yelp, Laura M and Grace doing their foodie thing, and Justin from The Skinny Perth taking photos of everything and stealing all our water. Check the interwebz, there will be plenty written about BSF, about how great it was, that it was way better than last year, all the hidden alleys with so many cool places to eat and drink, the stalls, the food, the fun and games... It was great. But I left that Saturday night totally knackered. Sunday needed breakfast. A long slow one. With coffee. ALL THE COFFEE!
Grilled orange nectarines with strawberries on buttermilk pancakes
This fruity, jammy topping for pancakes is so easy and looks really impressive. Works so well with underripe fruit as the cooking softens them. The orange and nectarine syrup you end up with is perfect for pouring over pancakes with a dollop of yoghurt and sliced green apples for some crunch. Here you have the recipe for the fruit, and the pancakes. I used the Urban Locavore mix I got in the November box, but have added another recipe I've used before in case you don't have those!
2 nectarines, quartered
Strawberries (how much do you like them? I used about 6), sliced
Juice of half an orange
Knob of butter
Tblsp raw caster sugar
1) Marinate the strawberries in the orange juice, set aside.
2) In a small frying pan on a medium heat, melt the butter and sprinkle the sugar evenly around the pan. Give it a swirl and allow the sugar and butter to combine.
3) When the butter and sugar are bubbling, gently add the nectarines. Let them cook undisturbed for a few minutes, then turn them. It's really important that you have the heat on medium to low, if you can see the pan getting darker and darker, turn the heat down!
4) You'll notice a syrup forming, with the juice of the nectarines coming out and combining with the butter and sugar. Give them a good shake and add half of the juice the strawberries were marinating in - if you want to add all of it, go for it, but by the time it cooks off and forms a syrup again, the nectarines will be a lot softer and your sauce will be closer to pureed fruit than whole fruit - it's up to you!
5) Cook off the sauce gently, until it thickens, it should take no more than 5 minutes.
6) Take it off the heat, and add the strawberries (discard the leftover juice, if there is any - or drink it!) and set aside while you cook the pancakes!
1 serving of Urban Locavore buttermilk pancake mix
If you don't have access to this mix (made up by a local Perth company), then use this recipe to make the pancakes feel free to halve it, as it feeds 4-6;
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons raw caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3 cups buttermilk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus some for the pan, or oil spray.
I served these with sliced green apples, a piece of 70% chocolate with almonds in between each pancake, and a grating over the top for a final touch! A beautiful, slow morning, with a gorgeous fruity breakfast!
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, and 4 tablespoons butter; whisk to combine. Batter should have small to medium lumps.
- Using a pastry brush, brush remaining 1/2 teaspoon of butter or give the pan a spray with oil. Wipe off excess.
- Using a ladle, about 1/2 cup, pour pancake batter, in pools 2 inches away from one other. When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around edges and slightly set on top, about 2 1/2 minutes, flip over. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute. You're better off having a slightly lower heat than a hotter one - these pancakes have a great texture but need a bit of time!
- Repeat with remaining batter, keeping finished pancakes on a heatproof plate in oven. Serve warm.
The Mt Lawley strip is going from strength to hipster strength. There are random works of art all over the place (beds full of grass, funky bus seats), a couple of quality book stores, and an array of pretty impressive purveyors of various forms of food and drink. Places have been greeted with differing levels of customer satisfaction, and Ace Pizza is one that's had the punters divided.
I had a crap day at work where the kids all left their brains at home. Seriously. Simple instructions were left unfollowed. Kids were trying every trick in the book to get out of doing work, and I didn't have time to finish my coffee. I ate my frustration aka lunch aka feelings at about 11am, and dreamed of drowning in a vat of wine and cheese while on the couch upon my return home.
We went to Ace Pizza instead.
We arrived at about 6 without a reservation and had the option of sitting inside but clearing out quick smart for some bookings, sitting at the bar or being sat outside - we chose outside and were pretty much on our own out there for a while. We felt a bit left out as it's buzzing inside, but then again, one of us would probably have said it was too loud, why is everyone shouting, get off my lawn.
We had our drink orders taken within about 5 minutes of being sat down, and our food orders were quick to be sorted as well. We got the Baby Blue Eyes pizza (house made sausage, kale, mozzarella, san marzarno tomatoes and garlic oil, $22), pork ribs with slaw ($18), and flat iron quail with potato cake ($17). Our drinks arrived and very shortly and our pizza surprisingly swift as well - one thing you can say about Ace, the service and food delivery does not leave you waiting around!
The pizza was nice, however we both agreed we've made better at home. It was pretty scant with the sausage, and the base was floppy, but we really enjoyed the flavour of the tomato sauce on the base. It was heavy on the kale, which was nice if you like kale - but in big chunks, so that paired with the floppy base meant this was a knife n fork job, unless you want to be taking one bite and bringing all the toppings with you, leaving a sad, naked floppy base. The flavour was fine, but it wasn't mind blowing. I think the hero of most pizzas is the base, it makes or breaks it. This one wasn't up to scratch.
Next came out the smoky ribs and slaw. I picked one up with my fingers and the bone fell out. AWWW YEAH! These ribs had been cooked since the cows came home. The cows didn't know about the chop chop beef on the menu I'm guessing. The ribs were the best thing we had - smoky, spicy without melting your face, and tender! Lots of gristle, but ribs are a cheap cut - you expect it (though didn't expect quite as much as we got). Meat falling off the bone, you hardly have to chew. Deelish! The slaw on the other hand didn't get as much love. The dressing tasted to me like it was failed mayo, HEAVY with olive oil, it was overpowering. Paired with the celery leaves which were overly peppery and a bit bitter, the slaw was just too many strong flavours that battled each other and left you feeling greased up and pulling a face.
Firstly, I fully acknowledge the shitness of that photo. It was the best one I had. Ace is a dark place and I only had my phone - not mobile photography friendly.
Anyway the highlight of the quail was the potato cake - a pressed wedge of wafer thin potatoes roasted/fried to crispy goodness made me happy. Considering the quail was pretty meh, it needed a strong contender like fried potato to back it up. The dressing to me tasted weird. That's not really an advanced culinary term but I didn't like it, so I didn't eat it, which meant I couldn't dissect it's bits. The majority of it was left untouched.
The grilled orange segment was a nice touch, however that scent holds bad memories of a party I had at my parents place when I was 15 and they were outta town. I grew up in the country, we had to make our own fun. That sometimes involved BBQs, oranges and first aid.
We figured upon finishing our meal and being mainly disappointed that the best way to fix that was through ice cream. They have a soft serve which is $7 and comes with 2 bottles of sauce (salted caramel and ice magic), a cup of caramel popcorn and a cup of oat crunch. For the love of all thats heart healthy share the ice cream. How one person could polish that off and not wake up with diabetus I don't know. The salted caramel sauce was good, almost burnt so the sweet edge wasn't quite so cloying, mixed with the creamy soft serve and snap of the chocolate ice magic, kids will go nuts for this shit. It's not rocket science, but it's soft serve ice cream with various textural elements to make it a bit more grown up and DIY. I liked it, but could never eat a whole one.
To sum up, the whole place left me not that keen to come back. The hype surrounding this joint, in my opinion was not justified. Would I go back? Maybe, but it wouldn't be my choice. If friends were having dinner there, I'd go no worries. Would I suggest it? No. Considering the quality of what the rest of the Beaufort St strip offers, I wouldn't want to waste my precious kilojoule intake on sub par pizza and bad salads. The beer list wasn't great either.
You don't make friends with salad anyway.
The date my 4 week exchange in Denmark was over, just happened to coincide with the start of my 2 week school holidays! This is a most welcome coincidence! Where to go?!
4 days in Barcelona?! YES!
I was recommended to go to El Quim, in La Boqueria, the big food market just off La Rambla. They specialise in workers breakfasts, eggs, squid and beans, tripe... No I didn't go for the tripe! I had the eggs with wild mushrooms, since I'd seen so many varieties on display all through the market and they looked fantastic! I also had the squid and beans San Pau which I'd had recommended a couple of times, and tried some acorn fed jamon - not all in the same visit!
Acorn fed jamon and an espresso, breakfast of champs!
I also went on a the "Feast on Tour" foodie walking tour with Aborigens Barcelona, where we went to 6 different places and had loads about Catalan food traditions and the Barcelona food scene.
The bomba! Deep fried potato with a rich romesco sauce, sat on a plate full of garlicky aioli!
Delicious clams! With some wicked sauce on the table, no one really knew what it was, but it was citrus, garlic, ginger goodness when splashed on the clams!
Getting this old man bar explained to us - a Spanish baras opposed to Catalan that most others were in the area. So much food here!
Snails, slippery little suckers! Not an amazing texture, but tasty! The sauce was amazing, thick, rich and moreish.
Fried and salted padron peppers - 1 in 10 are hot, where the rest have zero heat! I didn't manage to get a hot one, but I tried!
All the delicious Catalan tapas!
Homemade housewine drinking, Catalan style!
Vermouth with stuffed olives - sweet and smooth!
Pickled anchovies with stuffed olives, the traditional accompaniment to vermouth. Went together surprisingly well!
Tomato bread, cured tuna, array of amazing sheep/cows milk cheese and croquettes. Awesome.
Cured tuna - treated in a very similar way to jamon. Not very fishy at all and tasted actually quite hammy!
Spanish tortilla - cooked until still wobbly!
Keep an eye out for more detailed posts about Barcelona, Copenhagen and Denmark!
As a part of the Eat Drink Blog festivities held in my home city, Perth, we got to pick a masterclass to attend on the Sunday - Growing and cooking with mushrooms, cocktail and food matching at The Classroom (who also just won Best Cocktail Bar, and Excellence in Service awards at the AHA Hospitality awards), or a pastry masterclass with Emmanuel Mollois. Given that I'm involved with the Secret Cake Club Perth and constantly feel like I need to do better in all things baking (especially when I see what others bring sometimes, I'm talking to you David, talented bastard!) I chose the pastry class. I also thought it might be hot, and pastry needs air con. This was a wise choice, past Jacqui.
Because it was being held in the UWA Publishing rooms at the Claremont campus of UWA, the kitchen facilities were limited, but that didn't stop a fella like Emmanuel from entertaining us with his witty banter and thoughts on life, pastry, and macarons.
He chose to show us the finer points of choux pastry and piping, which for some is a really tricky one and have taken their trays out of the oven to find little discs of rockhard sadness. I don't know why this happens, but it's never happened to me. I don't know why mine have always worked - dumb luck or the way I'm doing it is the right way, who knows. But it was still interesting to sit and listen to him talk us through the whole process.
The first thing he mentioned was that you never use a whisk, always a wooden spoon. A whisk will incorporate air into the dough which you don't want - it rises because of the egg whites so whipping the dough isn't necessary.
Choux swan bodies step 1
Choux swan bodies step 2
Chouw swan bodies - someone on Twitter likened them to ovaries or a ball sack. Something reproductive. Thanks for that.
Choux swan head step 1
Choux swan head step 2
Choux swan head finished. This was also likened to a sperm. Yes, again, thank you my filthy friends.
He then talked us through the finer points of piping, and eclairs - which are meant to be 12cm long, no more, no less. He mentioned that it's better for you to pipe one big long eclair and cut it if you want mini bite sizes pieces, rather than pipe tiny ones because it's too easy for it to dry out and there is no room for cream. We need all the room for cream. Or creme pat. Or any eclair filling, because they're all amazing.
Unless you start thinking about reproduction again, in which case you've ruined the eclair anyway I demand you give it to me instead of gagging through a cream filled phallic pastry. Yes I just went there.
On another topic - you're meant to make choux with full fat milk. Did not know. You can go half milk/water, or just water, but he always uses milk. Will have to give that one a go and see what the flavours like, just in case filling it with cream and dunking it in chocolate wasn't unhealthy enough. Whatever - the damage has been done, eat another one.
Emmanuel also talked about how handy choux pastry can be - it can be piped and egg washed and then frozen for up to 7 days (any longer than that and you're using your freezer as a bin) and put in the oven straight from frozen. Yeasted dough can also be frozen for us to 7 days - anything longer than that and you kill the yeast, unless it's full of shit, then it'll last for months (his words, not mine).
It was great to hear him talking while he was working - he praised the effect things like Masterchef have had on peoples ability and willingness to cook, but criticised the fact that it's resulted in people expecting restaurant quality meals at home, or having that expectation thrust upon you when you have guests. He talked about the fact when he has friends over, he cooks simply - he'll drive for miles to get the best ingredients, but will treat them carefully, he doesn't want to spend the whole time cooking, and if he DOES want to spend time cooking it will be on dessert or canapes. I tend to agree with him, you don't go to a mates house for dinner to see them stressing in the kitchen, you want to see them, catch up, have a chat, have too much wine. Shit I'll do that anyway even if you are in the kitchen, but at least you can talk back to me when I'm asking how you're doing, rather than trying to perfect your jus foam paste.
I asked Emmanuel if he always used a recipe? He's probably cooked some things a million times, he must know stuff by heart at this stage surely? He was adamant - he ALWAYS uses a recipe and he ALWAYS measures his ingredients. Sure he knows stuff off by heart, but when you don't measure, or don't follow a process, that's when mistakes happen.
He always uses his notebook, tests and tweaks his recipes until they're perfect. His book was battered, old and worn. Just think how much it's been used, and how much time and knowledge is in there. If anyone nicks it, most of you reading this know where I live. Just sayin.
The bloggers descend!!
We ended up having choux buns with an almond crust and vanilla cream inside, as well as fraise Romanov which is strawberries soaked in orange curacau, zest and sugar, topped with vanilla meringue cream. It was all delicious and so easy to prepare (mostly in advance) that anyone could get that done for a dinner party - that was his aim, to show us that while French pastry can be elegant, it doesn't have to be difficult.
I really enjoyed his masterclass and would love the opportunity to attend a more hands on class where I could fully take advantage of his knowledge and practice some skills I'm not good at - dishes and tidying my room doesn't count, classes will never fix that.
Thanks to UWA Publishing for putting the event on and of course the EDB 2013 crew for organising it!
The Secret Cake Club Perth theme this time round was cocktails, mocktails, and booze - knowing what I know about SCC Perth (lots of sweet things = sugar coma) I decided to make something savoury. I had an epiphany - beer bread! Stuffed with bacon and cheese. But then I had another thought - Beersine Pale Ale Cheddar! Stuffed inside fluffy white bread, with loads of bacon. YES. I hunted around for a soft white bread recipe in my books and came upon the ever reliable Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (a totally life changing bread book!), who have a soft American style white bread recipe. This was thrown into my KitchenAid too early this morning in a haze of last nights wine, and left to rise while we went and picked up some turkish breads from Harvest Espresso in Vic Park! After coming home full of great coffee, pulled pork/coleslaw and chicken/roasted vege turkish breads (they're good - try them!), I set about shaping my little rolls. It's really just a case of cutting your dough in half, then half again, half again, half again, until you get as many little dough balls as you'd like. Flatten out your balls, stuff with some crumbled cheese, fried bacon and let rise for a while. Egg wash, S&P, bake.
Soft American- Style White Bread, stuffed with Beersine Hop Cheddar and Bacon
Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day - Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois
(I halved the recipe but it is easily doubled)
1.5 cups lukewarm water
3/4 tbsp sea salt
3/4 tbsp dried yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
3.5 cups white flour1 round of Beersine Hop Cheddar
1 packet of bacon, chopped, pan fried and cooled
1) Mix all of the wet ingredients together, being sure not to pour the hot melted butter over the yeast.
2) Add the flour and stir/mix with dough hook to combine, cover and leave to rise until it has doubled in size.
3) When risen, flour a work surface lightly and tip the dough out. Roll it out into a snake and cut it in half, then half again, etc until you have the size dough balls you want. For bite sized rolls, they should be about the size of 2 thumbs (thats a technical measurement alright?).
4) Take each little ball and flatten it, place in a chunk of the cheese and a tsp of fried bacon. Be generous.
5) Fold the edges into the middle and pinch them together to make sure they're sealed.
6) Place them on a greased tray about 1cm apart from each other and let rest/rise about 40-60 minutes.
7) Cover them in an egg wash and sprinkle S&P over the top before baking in a preheated HOT oven (think 200-250C) for 20-30 minutes until they are golden brown on top and you can smell the bacon!
This months Secret Cake Club Perth was hosted by Frisk Small Bar in Northbridge. They were amazing - the 2 bartenders were friendly and great at their job. Everyone loved their cocktails and we actually drank them out of coffee! There was A LOT of espresso martinis ordered for a Sunday afternoon... The space was perfect and we weren't charged anything for taking up pretty much the whole bar. They had loads of seating and tables, including benches outside. I had a White Lady cocktail which was a delicious contrast to all the cakey sweetness we had in front of us. Fabulous place, great service, and I saw a cheese board go out that looked pretty great too!
If you are any kind of beer nerd, you HAVE to go to the Pourhouse in Dunsborough. You have to. Their beer list is amazing, and so far the best I've seen. Anywhere. It's easily recognised by the Dutch style bakfiets (bike with a box attached for transporting kids) out the front, on Dunn Bay Rd just off the main drag down the road from the beach.
They had the Rogue Hazelnut Brown on tap for a while, but by the time we got there, they'd sold it all. S was a bit sad about that, but he soon forgot about it as they have so much else to choose from, and the bartender was so excited about beer that they soon descended into a nerdy dialogue of hops, malts, brewing methods and tasting notes. Which beer to try though!?
I'm not a really big beer drinker, but with S being a total beer nerd, he's always getting me to try his latest purchase. The Renaissance Chocolate Oatmeal Stout was his first choice, and after the first sip it was given to me with a "YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS!". It is DELICIOUS. It actually tastes like chocolate porridge in beer form. It was viscous and smooth without the bitter end that many stouts have. It's a big beer and you don't need much of it, so we were happy to share it.
We followed our chocolate stout with a couple of sliders for $6, bargain! They were really tasty as well. Just enough for us as a little snack between meals. They change everyday and I believe these ones were beef, caramelised onion with some blue cheese. I've heard good things about their food, and next time we head down south we may actually stay closer to Dunsborough so we can have a night out here - food, drinks, the lot.
The next beer, S had no idea what to choose... He gave me his wallet and asked me to go up and pick something out for him, or ask the bartenders what they recommend. As S loves the bitter, hoppy beers, I asked for the hoppiest beer they have. They gave me JJJ IPA from Moor Brewing, with the warning "Good luck". It's a massive beer. I hated it, but I don't like crazy hops. S was into it, trying to pick out which hops they used and commenting on the flavour of the barley wine. It's a triple IPA so it's full on, but S noticed as his palate got used to the bitterness, that it was actually very sweet. Moor Brewing wrote about this beer that if you are looking for a one dimensional hop bomb this is not for you, as they've worked hard on the layers of flavour, and I'd say even though I didn't like it, they've done what they set out to achieve.
So like I said... If you're into beers, this is a destination pub for you. They have such a comprehensive beer list not seen anywhere in Perth. The only place in the city that would have a beer list like this is Mane Liquor/International Beer Shop/Cellarbrations Carlisle. The food has had good things said about it, and the comfy setting of the pub, with a fireplace, soft couches, board games and long tables has pretty much everything you need to chill here for many an hour.
Today's weather is cold, blustery, and wet. This is not a night for salads, which is backed up by the Simpsons. It's a soup and toasted sandwich night, dunk that bad boy into your soup while you're on the couch warming up after doing the sprint from the car to the house to avoid the downpour (which only starts just as you park...).I've been looking through my MoVida Rustica book by Frank Comorra and Richard Cornish. Why? Because I'm off to Barcelona later in the year and I wanna get inspired! I booked a foodie tour with a company called Aborigens Barcelona, who sound totally amazing - they have such a genuine vibe about them, they don't go to places who give them commission for taking groups there, and they don't have groups bigger than 8. They take you out of the centre of the city to find places you wouldn't find yourself - this is EXACTLY what I wanted. Another bonus? One of the guys who founded the company collaborated with Frank Comorra and Richard Cornish on the MoVida guide to Barcelona, and on a new MoVida cookbook. Is there any higher rating than that? Who else would I want showing me around the tapas bars, bodegas and hidden foodie gems? SO LUCKY!One of the great recipes in this book is the tomato and cumin soup... This was such an easy meal to prepare, with few ingredients. It lived up to my expectation of being an easy midweek meal, but exceeded my expectations in flavour. This was a lovely soup, so light and full of flavour, but when you cracked open the poached egg and let the yolk be swirled through the rich, red soup, it became silky and gorgeous. The egg made this dish. Without it, it is a tasty tomato soup flavoured with cumin and sweet red peppers. But with the egg, it's something much more special. It's simple and healthy, and it's deliciousness is enhanced by quality ingredients - you have nothing to hide behind when you create something so simple. I blended mine, which added to the smoothness, but it would equally as good were it left chunky as rustic, like the book intended.
Does not look pretty... Doesn't matter. Tastes amazing.
Tomato and Cumin Soup
Serves 6, from MoVida Rustica by Frank Comorra and Richard Cornish
50ml olive oil
1 red onion roughly chopped
1 red capsicum seeded and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 kg ripe tomatoes
1 tsp cumin seeds, roasted and ground
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 tsp fine sea salt
1. Score a cross in the base of each tomato, place in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 30 seconds then transfer to cold water and peel the skin away from the cross. Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds. (Alternatively you can cheat and use canned tomatoes).
2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook for 5 mins or until soft and translucent. Add the capsicum and garlic and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 40 mins or until the mixture has a jam like consistency.
3. Stir in the tomatoes and 700ml of water and simmer for 25 mins or until the mixture has a soupy consistency. Add the sugar, 1 1/2 tsps paprika and the sea salt and mix well.
4. Crack the eggs, one at a time into a cup, then gently slide them into the soup around the edges. Cover and simmer gently for 6 mins.
5. Carefully divide the cooked eggs and soup among bowls and sprinkle with the remaining paprika.
This should serve six, but I made it for just 2 of us, and we took leftovers to work.
As someone who spent a year on youth exchange in Germany, followed by 2 years away travelling and nannying in the Netherlands - I do love a good travel story. There are times I really miss being on the road with no one to check in with and no real plans, just heading off where you like, when you like. All the sights, sounds and smells of somewhere new make you feel alive, and even just going to a bakery to buy bread is a challenge, how do you ask? Will they speak English? How will I even know what they say back to me if I DO get it right? Small things like this every day make it hard to come home back to your normal life, in your normal place with the same people you knew before, who are likely doing the same things as before - and those little challenges you faced every day became normal, and now life at home is so utterly boring you don't know what to do.
But for those who have come home and survived the coming home blues, there are still times when a sight or smell takes you back somewhere else, and memories come flooding back. Or when you listen with keen interest to someone telling their story, wondering if maybe you'd like to go there, when can I get there, how long should I go for and what will I do when I get there? Those are the kind of questions that were running through my mind as Steve Scourfield, award winning novelist, travel editor at The West and career nomad was reading passages from the books about his travels. Accompanying his words were the beats and sounds of 2 very talented local musicians who had choreographed the music to match the tempo of what he talking about as well as the country.
We were served 4 delicious courses of food that matched the destinations he was talking about - think sumac baked eggplant for Oman, alaskan crab and salmon from the Yukon, curried pork chop and maize souffle from Lesotho and orange olive oil cake with mascapone chantilly from Rome... We had some good wines being poured as well which was a nice touch!
The tables are communal and we had some great chats with the travellers around us. We were easily the youngest people in the room, but it just meant we had so much to hear from the people sitting around us - the places they'd been, the places they were going...
It was a wonderful night, and while it was planned on being just a one off - the University Club of UWA said there was a 400 strong waiting list! So expect another one!
Yeah sorry about that title.
I don't know what came over me...
Anyway, turnips are good. I like them in my vege soups, they make it taste more like how my Nan used to make hers, which was a family favourite. I've roasted them before and also chucked them into stews. But have they ever really taken the centre stage? Nope. Wtf are you meant to do with a turnip anyway? I'm pretty sure most people get them just as a cheap bulking out vege, but what else can you do with them, when you end up with some like we did in our vege box?
In this months issue of Gourmet Traveller, there was a recipe for a turnip slaw which caught my attention straight away. I was wondering what I was going to do with the turnips in our vege box, and we do like a bit of coleslaw in this house, so it was worth a go! The original recipe calls for cream to be stirred through just before serving this, but we didn't have any anyway, and we prefer things to be a bit lighter and zestier.
Now, you'll notice the ingredients are pretty vague. Dressings are a very personal thing, your tastebuds are your own and you know what you like. This is an exercise in tasting as you go, and adding a little more of what you think your dressing needs. Remember to be conservative - you can always add more but you cannot take anything away once it's gone in!
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller, serves 2-3
Handful of chopped parsley
Cider mustard dressing
A good slosh of cider vinegar
A tbsp or 2 of caster sugar
A generous glug of olive oil
1 tbsp dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper
1) Use a mandolin/grater/food processor/samurai knife skills to get your turnips coursely shredded/grated/sliced. Grind some sea salt over the top and let the turnips sit for half an hour while the salt draws out some of the moisture. Give them a good squeeze to get rid of the excess moisture.
2) Pour the vinegar, sugar and some salt into a pan and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Once the sugar has dissolved, whisk in the mustard and oil until it's emulsified. Give it a taste and see how it's gone - add in whatever you think it needs!
3) Pour the dressing over the turnips, add the chopped parsley and crack in some fresh black pepper.
4) Eat and be surprised!
This is fab with BBQ'd meats, inside quesadillas, or with any rich meats.