Friday, 29 July 2022

Saffarjaliyya

I've made a lot of Persian food over the last few years. There's 2 awesome persian supermarkets close by to where I live so it is really easy to get the necessary ingredients these days. Plus it is such a rich and full flavoured food, especially their more stewish things. I'm not exactly sure how to pronounce this to be honest I didn't really even give it a red hot go as the alternate name is Aleppo Quince and Lamb Stew. Which, I will be truthful, is a lot easier to pronounce for me. Another thing easy to pronounce is delicious, like gloriously delicious. Two of my favourite things, lamb and quince together. 

I really thought I had made this before. However, according to my friend I haven't, the last quince thing I made was a quince and pork stew. Whilst I remember it as being good, this was so much better. I did it a little differently than the recipe I found online but then I mostly do. I would highly recommend it. 

Saffarjaliyya (Aleppo Quince and Lamb Stew)

Lamb: 
1 tbsp oil
750 g lamb, diced
1 tsp bharat
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp tomato past
2 small onions, diced 
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 6 from memory) 
7 cardamom pods
7 peppercornes
1/4 tsp whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick (I didn't have one so added a bit of ground cinnamon)
100 ml pomegranate juice
1-2 cups water

Quince: 
1 kg quinces, peeled, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces
500 ml pomegranate juice
125 ml water
50 g sugar

Quince:

In a medium saucepan, add sugar, water and pomegranate juice, heat to simmer and sugar dissolved. Add quince and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. The quince should be soft enough to be easily pierced with a fork, but not so soft that it’s falling apart.

 Lamb:

Combine bharat, tomato paste and salt to taste and rub over lamb. Brown in batches.

Add onion to the pan and soften, add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add whole spices.

Return lamb to the pan and add remaining pomegranate juice and 1-2 cups water. Simmer until lamb is cooked through and only a small amount of liquid remains.

Stir quinces into the lamb adding more liquid if necessary and simmer further 10 – 15 minutes until heated through.

I served it with mashed potato and peas... not very Syrian of me, but it was the best I could come up with on a Monday night. It would be really good with a couscous with pomegranate seeds and herbs stirred in. 

I will definitely make it again and highly recommend you do too. 




Friday, 22 July 2022

Everyone's turning 70

 Well hello there lovely people. Long time no speak (write???). Who knows if this will continue, missing some creativity in my life. It has been suggested to me a couple of times to get back into my blog. So here I am. 

I have heaps of things that I have made over the many years it has been since I last posted here. However, I thought that I would start with something familiar, cake decorating. 

It's 5 1/2 years since I move to the big city and I've been with the same company the whole time too. It's a pretty good work place. As much as I whine about my job at times (and it is stressful) but the majority of the people here are lovely. Amazingly, we have 3 of the people here turning 70 this year. One in May, one a last week and one in 2 weeks! I just told them that I was going to make the cakes without giving them any options. I still have one to go but thought that I would post the two I have already done. 

The first one was our office manager. She's very much an accessories person so I decided that it needed to be the theme of the cake some how. I did consider doing the whole handbag and shoes cake but I kind of missed the boat in timing, so in the end I made a handbag topper (which was also make of cake) to go on a standard round. I was pretty happy with the whole thing however I found that the white Satin Ice fondant was a little dry and the Fondtastic black icing was a little soft. In fact the black fondant started to slip on the little handbag but most people thought it was supposed to be that way given it was sitting on the "floor". LOL, I went with it. 



Our next 70th was a little bit more tricky, mainly because I really don't know what the big kahuna does outside of the office. There was a bit of investigating and checking with some of the "long termers" here (there's a lot of them) and came up with he likes to go walking/hiking. After doing a bit of googling and my own designs, I came up with a two tier cake with a walking track with boots and hiking poles. I was able to use the "chocolate stones" that I just had to have that would "come in handy one day" (and they did!). It was universally loved. The birthday boy took pictures of it himself to show his walking group. ­čśŐ


They were, of course, made with my regular chocolate cake. The hiking cake I alternated ganache and dulce du leche in the layers and coated with peanut butter buttercream. I had done a "snickers cake" for my birthday in June which was particularly successful so decided to go with that again. It was so amazingly delicious!


I have a plan for my 3 cake in a couple of weeks. That boss man isn't a big fan of chocolate cake, so will have to find a different base... maybe carrot. I'm not sure yet. Looking forward to it though. 

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Riley St Garage

Do you know what I didn't have access to when I lived up north????

RESTAURANTS

Well, we did have some but country town restaurants.

Do you know what I have access to now?


Every little purple dot on that map is a restaurant/cafe/bar. Look at it, just look. And that is just in the city. There are so many places to go and so many things to try. I could eat out every night for the rest of my life and not get to all of them. I, of course, have a list of must go to restaurants. I have been to a couple of them already. I have been to a lot of other amazing places too. I think I should take you with me too.

Riley St Garage is on my must go list. I'm not sure how or when I first heard of it but I knew that it was absolutely necessary that I go there. I've been to a number of restaurants on my own and, while wonderful, it just isn't the same as when you are sharing it with someone else. I decided to leave going to Riley St Garage until I had someone to go with me.The opportunity arose this past Saturday.

Did you know that Saturday was International Beard Day? Did you know there was an International Beard Day? No, neither did I until a few weeks ago when Riley St Garage posted about it on their instagram with details of an event they were having. It really was some perfect timing. I had a well-groomed friend coming from Melbourne that weekend, a "degustation" menu was in place and, well, it was Riley St Garage. It was a no-brainer that we were going to go there.



Saturday arrived and it was a beautiful day. I will offer a little advice, don't wear new shoes and walk from Central Station to the restaurant. My feet did not appreciate it. If I hadn't been wearing new shoes it would have been an easy gentle walk from the city to the restaurant. Quite often when you look at the map the two points look a rather long distance apart but when you have google maps actually work out the route for you most things are within easy walking distance of public transport. This is no exception in relation to the train. Plus, if you want there is a bus stop pretty much right outside the door!

As per usual we were early, me more so. There is a little cafe next door. Now when I say little, I mean really little. We did consider going there but there was no room inside and secondly I didn't really want to eat or drink anything prior to our coming lunch. We wandered a little but my feet hurt so we sat on a bench and talked.

I know, I know, I can hear you all saying "we don't care about that. tell us about the food". LOL

We were very warmly welcomed, I would love to say by who but...I didn't get names, I also didn't take photos of the set up inside....I'll do better. Everyone was very friendly and jovial. We started at the bar. The stools at the bar were comfortable and sturdy but I had a lot of trouble getting up there. LOL Platform heels next time I guess. A well set out bar and a nice little range of cocktails. I had a sinnaman which was described as an apple pie in a glass (I didn't take a photo, sorry). It was, it really did taste just like an apple pie. My friend asked our bartender to surprise him, I'm not a very good reveiwer, I don't remember what he got now.... looking at the menu I think it was the Tommy's Twisted. He was very happy with the choice.

We moved onto the table and off we went to our table and into an amazing degustation menu.


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The oysters came served in a champagne box full of ice. I'll be honest, I'm not usually a fan of oysters. Usually quite happy for others to have my share but I was intrigued by the combination of flavours and wasn't going to miss out. I was very pleased that I did. It would have been very easy for one of the flavours to dominate the dish with either the smoke or the truffle taking over but I found that it was wonderfully balanced and they complimented each other perfectly. It was a wonderful start to the meal. 


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The tacos were next out in a box filled with barley, another excellent presentation. I admit that I had not come across barley miso before. The crunch of the taco shells were perfect with the soft and buttery tuna. The miso was perfectly proportioned so that it coated but didn't smother the tuna nor soften the crunchy shells. The dabs of mayo on top completed the dish. I assume that the taco shells were some kind of rice paper. I really should have asked...



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We were just finished with our tacos and the beef carpaccio was next to hit the table. I read the menu, we both read the menu, and I still ask my companion if it was parmesan, to which he agreed. It was not because the menu very clearly states salted ricotta....not a good foodie! LOL I'll also admit to another little d'oh moment with this dish in that there was some crunchy pieces in it and I asked "do you think this is fried garlic slices?" No that would be the horseradish. I've never had a carpaccio before. I've always been really hesitant of having raw beef but I did really enjoy it the beef was, like I said with the tuna, soft and buttery. I had always wondered how difficult it would be to eat it raw. I guess, like every other situation it depends on the cut and how you treat it to get the result you want. I wouldn't hesitate to try it again.


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Can I just say how much I love burrata?  I do, I really do. It looks like it's firm like mozzarella but it is oozy inside. This one was perfect a little resistance when first cutting into it, with a spoon, but then so soft, silky and oozy inside. The pickled onion was a perfect accompaniment with the cheese. It had a vinegary flavour but it was not over-powering. The pistachios added a lovely crunch to the dish.


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I wasn't completely sure what to expect with the corn dogs. I do love a good chorizo and this was a really good one. I'd never had a lamb chorizo before and I didn't really notice the lamb flavour in it. My mum would have I'm sure. She could tell if the meat grinder hadn't been cleaned completely after mincing the lamb before the beef, she really didn't like lamb. The chorizo was perfectly seasoned, a nice bite to it but nothing over powering. The batter coating it was perfectly cooked and an excellent batter to meat proportion. The pickle and sauce completed it nicely.


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The lamb shoulder, truffle mash and broccolini all hit our table. The lamb was just melting off the bone. A spoon was all that was needed to break it apart. It was saucy and juicy the labne and little crunch bits or garlic were delicious with it. The truffle mash was absolutely to die for. I really could have just sat there with the spoon and eaten the whole dish. The truffle flavour was strong but not too strong. The actual mash was so creamy. I love creamy mash and, I'll be honest, is one of the few reason I keep my thermomix. The broccolini was perfectly cooked. The smokey charred flavour came through beautifully. The three components of the main course fitted together so perfectly.


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After devouring all of that food we were grateful that they offered a bit of a break before the dessert. It was nice to sit with the flavours for a while and not have them rushed off your palate with a burst of sugar. A glass of wine, Sauvignon Blanc for me and Pinot Noir for him, had also been consumed during lunch. We just stayed with water for the rest of the meal. The dessert made an appearance flaming away (I really should have done a video), and we waited for it to die down. there was a beautiful crack on top when we broke into it. It looked like it was going to be really sweet and really heavy but it really wasn't either of those. Yes, it was sweet but not overpowering. It wasn't a huge rush of sugar into my system. The brownie was dense but not so dense that it weighed down in my stomach. I will admit that we didn't finish it. I'd had the perfect amount of food and any more really would have been too much so the last bit went begging.


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I thoroughly enjoyed my meal. Everyone was very friendly and the service was excellent. I can tick it off my go to list but will leave it on there as I'd really like to go to Riley St Garage again. 


Sunday, 19 August 2018

Smokey beans with chorizo

Over the last few months I have been trying to bulk cook either for the week ahead or to freeze leftovers for a later time. I know that I have written about bulk cooking and freezing and how it didn't really work for me. Well, like a massive amount of things my life has changed and habits change too. I usually take my lunch to work with me 4 days a week and treat myself on the 5th. Some weeks are better than others. My work place offers amazing facilities. We have a full kitchen with cook top, oven, microwave, toaster, sandwich press and I have seen one of those pizza ovens in the cupboard. Our pantry and fridge are amazingly stocked. We are provided with both fresh fruit and fresh bread each week. I tend to have my two pieces of fruit at work each day. I have morning tea of vitawheat with vegemite and sometimes with cheese. I think that the only down fall in our office kitchen is there is so much chocolate and other sweet foods. I think there is all and every type of chocolate biscuit there is in our fridge at the office. I do love a mint slice but it really isn't good to be frequenting the chocolate biscuit drawer and it would be lovely to have some healthier options, not sure what they could be.

As I said I do meals for the week or freezer when bulk cooking but I have also taken to making breakfasts as well. If I don't have breakfast ready for the week I tend to have corn thins with peanut butter and banana, not exchange bad but it could be better. I often make a baked oatmeal, which I thought I had previously blogged but I cannot seem to find so I will do that one day soon. That will usually take me through 5 - 6 days. It was time for something different though. I found a recipe for Smokey Baked Beans and the idea sounded good but not so much the recipe. My first issue with it was that it wasn't baked.... in the end mine weren't either hence there is no "baked" in the title. So I used it as a base and went my own way. I did find that part way through the cooking it wasn't really tasting all that smokey to me so I added a couple of tbsp of a bbq sauce I had in the fridge. I think part of the issue was that the recipe I was using as a guide had water and it was just too much liquid so I lost some of the flavour. As part of my bulk cooking and freezing, I cooked a large amount of kidney beans, borlotti beans and chickpeas and have them in the freezer. It makes life so much easier and so much cheaper than buying the tins. So I thawed some of them overnight and cooked it up in the morning. I think this gave me 4, maybe 5 breakfasts. I served it on a piece of toasted sourdough for the first couple of days but then just heated a bowl up in the morning and ate it without anything else.

Smokey beans with chorizo
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 chorizo, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 400g tin chopped tomato
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp smokey bbq sauce (I used Stubbs smokey mesquite which I got from Harris Farm Market)
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (I used a hot smoked paprika)
  • 2 cups cooked beans (I used kidney & borlotti)
Method:

Heat large frypan over a medium heat and add chorizo. Cook until it is starting to brown and then remove from the pan. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent then add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring for 1 - 2 minutes, I find the flavours better if tomato paste is "cooked off".
Add the remaining ingredients and reduce to a low heat until it has thickened and is the consistency that you desire.




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Thursday, 9 August 2018

Quinces

Hello...hello....hello. It's probably an echo chamber in here. Such an incredibly long time since I even looked at my blog let alone posted anything.

There has been lots of changes here. The biggest being I moved to the city! No more country life for me. I do miss my friends but there are other options to see them then living there. I've been here in the city for 18 months now! It's amazes me when I think about it. Seems like just yesterday that I packed everything up and moved on down. People ask me if I'll ever go back...my answer is a rapid "no". I love living in the city. So much to do and so many places to go. If I do get to a point where I decide that city life isn't for me there is a whole world to places to go, although backwards isn't one of them.

Besides all the places to go and things to do I so love the access that I have to ingredients down here. All those recipes I used to pour over and think "if only I could get the ingredients", well I can now. So many options. Near where I work there is a most wonderful fruit, veg and deli place. I will rave over it regularly. Such a wide range of produce and other things. Some cheap, some not so. I do have access to some other cheap fruit & veg places plus butchers nearer to where I live. Although I admit to thinking the other night that with the meat in these butchers being so cheap, and it really is, how much are the farmers getting screwed down. We are in the midst of a dreadful drought and having grown up on the land it suddenly occurred to me that cheap meat, whilst good for my pocket, effects those down the line. I'm not sure what the answer is though. Now I'm on a stricter budget every little saving helps. Plus it does mean that I am still eating meat reasonably regularly. If I was relying on other butchers or the supermarket there would not be much of it on my table. Not that that would be a terrible thing.

I have no idea if I've mentioned quinces here on the blog before. I love quince. When I was a kid we lived on a farm that had some old quince trees. We had to compete with the codling moth for the fruit so we didn't always get a lot of it. I don't really remember what I mum used to do with them either. I know there was jam, perhaps pie. I do remember them being really good. Not that you can eat them uncooked. Perhaps you could...I wouldn't recommend it though. I had bought them at supermarkets occasionally but they were expensive. I found them here, first at Harris Farmm market where I have also bought a lot of produce but mainly from the deli. I've made a number of things from them.

First I used this Stephanie Alexander recipe for Baked Quinces. It was excellent. So very delicious with some yoghurt as a dessert. I also added them as a sweetener to my morning porridge. They would probably be fabulous with an oozy rice pudding. I will admit to not being overly keen on the skin being left on. Whilst you can eat it, I found it didn't soften too much. I guess that was part of the idea to hold the quince halves together but I'd most likely peel them if doing the recipe again. They were sweet and delicious though.

Baked quince with yoghurt


My next foray with quince was Roast Pork with Quinces, Honey & Red Wine. Now, this was good but I'd definitely make some changes to the process if making again. All of the elements were wonderful, although I replaced the parsnips with carrots and chokos. I found that the quince and vegetables ended up a tad over cooked and, s you can see in my picture, almost black with the sauce having excessively reduced down I will admit that I have a very big roasting pan and it would probably been beneficial to be in something smaller. However, I think it would have been best do the pork at high heat and then add the quince and liquid following that. I would also wait a little longer before adding the other veg. Although parsnips are quite a bit more dense than carrot and chokos so that could be one of the reasons for the slight over cooking. It was delicious but there are definitely changes that could be made to make it better.

Roast pork with quince, honey & red wine


My pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance with my quinces, although I do have one left, was this Quince Upside Down cake. O.M.G. Amazing. It is a long process. I mean there is the poaching of the quince. The only change I made to the poaching process was that I added a cartouche over the fruit before adding the plate to the top and putting the lid on for part of the cooking too. I didn't like that the cores were left in. I would remove them next time. They were just a pain trying to remove them after they had been poached & cooled. Sometimes quince cores can be difficult to remove and have a hard surrounding to them that really needs to be removed and it was hard since the rest of the fruit was softened. I was very concerned when I was putting the cake batter in the tin and throughout baking that there was too much of the syrup in the pan. I mean it was coming up around the cake batter. However it turned out perfectly. I was surprised but very pleased. I hate to waste ingredients. I work in a larger office now and they are very grateful for any baking contributions that I make to the office. I am happy because I get to bake and I don't have to eat it. Most people were convince there was ginger in the cake. Perhaps the combination of fresh grated nutmeg and the cloves threw them off. I'm not sure. I got some raves for it. Plus I have some left over poached quince. I had some one night with a drizzle of cream for dessert. It was lovely. I'm not exactly sure what I will do with the rest of the left overs...ice cream maybe, rice pudding perhaps. I would highly recommend making this if you can get your hands on some quinces.


Quince upside down cake


Quince upside down cake