Sunday, May 31, 2015

All's Quiet on the Blogging Front - Eating around Melbourne

Duck Waffles at Cumulus Up
Peking Duck at Flower Drum

So, it's been a while since my last post, but it's been with good reason! My husband surprised me with a holiday to Melbourne for an anniversary present and so instead of cooking (and photographing, and blogging), I've been eating food. So. Much. Food.

Smoked Tomato and Clam Pasta - Tipo 00
Cured Scallops at Rockwell & Sons

When he told me we were going to Melbourne, he asked if I could do a bit of research and find a few restaurants we should go to. Mission, accepted! We've both been to Melbourne once before, and absolutely loved it - but didn't really know the go-to places for good eats. I put a shout-out on my Instagram, I asked Rob Broadfield when I met him at The Trustee Food Review lunch, I checked on Yelp, I found a few Melbourne blogs and re-read my Gourmet Traveller reviews. 
Matcha Soft Serve at Supernormal
The Dessert Platter at Gingerboy

Whilst taking on lots of advice and ideas, our main food plan came down to the Top 100 restaurants list that was being compiled by the Australian Financial Review. It started off with a list of 500 restaurants Australia-wide, that chefs and restaurateurs then voted on to get the best 100 restaurants in Australia.
Alpaca Tartare at Pastuso
Grilled Prawns with Squid Ink CousCous at Bar Lourinha

When we left Perth, only the top 500 were released so we started eating our way around Melbourne, whilst we also indulged in 2 of our other shared passions - putt-putt and pinball. (We held our own Melbourne Pinball Tournament - more details on that in the future!!). The Top 100 list was released mid-holiday so we started re-focussing our last few days of eating on the winners. By the time we got home, we'd eaten at 11 of the Top 100 restaurants in Melbourne. Not bad for a 13 day trip, hey?
Smoked Brisket and sides at Le Bon Ton
Creamed Corn at The Town Mouse

I'll go into more depth on some of the incredible dishes and highlight restaurants we ate at over the coming weeks, but I just thought I'd check in and say hi! And I'll also get back to cooking and blogging my own dishes!

The Denise and the Huxtaburger

Have you been to Melbourne? What is your must-eat at restaurant?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Showing Your Working - Healthy Espresso Jelly Sandwich Breakfast Cookie

Showing Your Working - Healthy Espresso Jelly Sandwich Breakfast Cookie

Sometimes I feel like presenting my cooking or recipes to people is like a Maths test. Not in the sense where x butter + y flour + z eggs and sugar = cake kinda way and people question my x, y and z’s. But in the sense that a question I get asked most frequently is – how did you come up with that? I’ve said that people refer to my cooking as quirky, rather than conventional and I feel like my little recipe pre-amble is my chance to “show my working”. So I try to present where my thinking starts, winds and ends up at the finished dish. I think a little background shows that it’s not quirky for quirky’s sake, there’s a lot of thought going into the flavour combinations, the textural elements, the overall nutritional content and purpose of the dish. So, on that note, this is my maths for what is a pretty novel, healthy and absolutely delicious breakfast. Something delicious enough to be a dessert, but healthy enough to start your day with, guilt free.

In order to beat the traffic, I get to work early and eat my breakfast at my desk while I check through my emails. It’s usually some form of oats with cultured dairy (yoghurt or buttermilk), fruit and nuts & seeds. Carrot Cake Bircher muesli is a firm favourite, but requires a bit more prep than I can usually be bothered with, so that’s more a once every few months deal. My most regular staple is cold-brewed coffee overnight oats. Caffeine + whole grain awesomeness in one bowl. Soak it overnight, then add some fruit (usually bananas, prunes or berries) crunchy nuts and/or seeds before eating. It is so good and portable….but you’re left with dishes. That’s absolutely fine at work, where there’s a kitchen to do the dishes. But I needed a no-dishes portable breakfast. Something still full of healthy whole grains, the fruit and nuts and….the coffee. All in one. Enter the breakfast espresso jelly cookie.

I decided to stick with the elements of my coffee oats and layered based on wanting different textures. So we have two different ‘cookies’, the bottom is a chewy oat and banana cookie – making up the oat and fruit content of my breakfast. The middle is coffee jelly. This idea came from using excess sangria jelly in my granola to delicious effect. And the top is a nuts and seed granola ‘cookie’ to emulate the nutty crunch of my topping on my oats. I threw in some chocolate because…well, why not? My palate is decided not ‘sweet’, especially in the morning, so feel free to customize by adding ¼ cup of sugar to the espresso jelly (I have my long blacks without sugar normally). The honey in the cookies is more than sufficient for me.

And, if you don’t need the portability, serve with honey whipped ricotta or yoghurt. (Or ice cream!!)

Showing Your Working - Healthy Espresso Jelly Sandwich Breakfast Cookie
Showing Your Working - Healthy Espresso Jelly Sandwich Breakfast Cookie

Healthy Espresso Jelly Breakfast Sandwich Cookies

(Makes 12 formed cookies)

Espresso Jelly

6tbsp ground coffee beans
500mL freshly boiled water
5 tsp powdered gelatin

Lightly spray a lamington tin with cooking spray. Put the coffee beans into a plunger and pour over the boiled water. Leave for 5 minutes, then plunge and pour into a bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top of the coffee and whisk in until dissolved. Pour into the lamington tin and put in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours.

When set, cut into rounds with an egg ring. Chop the excess bits up and serve them with normal oats.

Banana Oat Cookies

3 small very ripe bananas
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp chia seeds
½ cup water
2/3 cup shredded coconut
1 2/3 cup rolled oats

Preheat oven to 165C

In a small bowl, mix the chia seeds and water and set aside to form a gel.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas until smooth, then mix in the spices and honey. Add the chia seed mix, stirring to combine evenly. Then add the oats and stir to coat.

Line a baking tray and lightly grease an egg ring.Place a few tablespoonsful of mixture into the ring and press in tightly with the back of a spoon. Gently lift off the ring, and form the rest of the cookies.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until starting to turn golden on top. Remove, gently flip over the biscuits and bake for a further 10 minutes, until that side is also golden. Cool for 10 minutes on the trays, then on racks.

Showing Your Working - Healthy Espresso Jelly Sandwich Breakfast Cookie
Showing Your Working - Healthy Espresso Jelly Sandwich Breakfast Cookie
Showing Your Working - Healthy Espresso Jelly Sandwich Breakfast Cookie

Chocolate Nut Brittle Biscuits

1 ½ tbsp. cacao powder
3 tbsp cacao nibs
1/3 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
1/3 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup pumpkin seeds
2/3 cup almonds, roughly chopped
1 tbsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp pepper
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp olive oil

Heat the oven to 165C

Mix the nuts, seeds and cacao nibs together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the oil, cacao powder, pepper, salt, vanilla, honey and oil. Make sure it is well combined. Pour the nut mix into the wet mix and stir to thoroughly coat everything.

Line a tray with baking paper, and lightly grease an egg ring. Place a few tablespoons of mixture into the ring and press it in tightly, pressing down with the back of a spoon. Gently remove the ring, and repeat for the rest of the mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until caramelised and 'solid'. The mixture will spread a little, but still retain the basic round shape. Cool on the trays. Trim the edges to neaten your sandwiches.

Layer one oat cookie, espresso jelly then a nut brittle cookie on top. If you assemble, wrap and store in the fridge. They will last a few days. The cookies will last up to a week separate at room temperature in air tight containers. Store the jelly in the fridge.

Showing Your Working - Healthy Espresso Jelly Sandwich Breakfast Cookie
Showing Your Working - Healthy Espresso Jelly Sandwich Breakfast Cookie

Showing Your Working - Healthy Espresso Jelly Sandwich Breakfast Cookie