» Archive for the 'Vegetables' Category

Kitchen by Mike

Sunday, May 13th, 2012 by Tina

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85 Dunning Ave, Rosebery

Kitchen by Mike is my newest food haunt and I love it. I’ve been taking everyone I can possibly grab as well, so have now been for weekday breakfast and lunch, weekend brunch, but not dinner.

The food: There’s no menu, just go up to the food counter and see what’s on. There’s always good bread, and I mean open crumb, moist, crusty sourdough with pepe saya butter. Usually a few interesting salads and some grilled or roast vegetables. A simple pizza with a delicious crust and quiche or tart, pastries and a cake or two for dessert. Everything is served room temperature and they just keep replenishing the food during service. It reminds me of Ottolenghi in London. Lunch is reasonable and normally works out to about $15 per person, depending on what you get.

The plate above has a globe artichoke, a luxury I learnt to appreciate from my stepmother. You peel off the layers one by one, dip them into the homemade mayonnaise and scrape the flesh between your teeth. When you finally get to the heart you discard the furry choke and eat the tender heart and stalk. Also on the plate, a lentil and brussels sprouts salad, a deeply caramelised roast pumpkin wedge with spiced yoghurt. I’ve also tried a wonderful mushroom soup, roast chicken, margherita pizza and coleslaw.

For breakfast I’ve had a bacon buttie and toast with jam, my friends have had the sourdough pancakes with lemon curd, the Boston baked beans with poached eggs and the bircher muesli, all of which are good. There is a limited menu for weekday breakfast; toasted muesli and yoghurt, Bircher, toast with jam and porridge.  The weekend breakfast is where they have the most options.

The space: is a canteen in a warehouse space, so as it’s getting chillier, bring something warm to wear. A colleague who came here first told me to leave time to walk around the homewares section before you eat, so that you’re not so distracted by the pretty things and end up ignoring your dinner date.

The coffee: is fantastic. I’m surrounded by Campos and Allpress, Sonoma and Bourke St Bakery all of whom do good coffee so this is stiff competition people! They also have smoothies, fresh juice, iced tea and homemade lemonade that come in cute glass bottles with barber striped paper straws. If you just want coffee and a pastry don’t line up in the big line, just go to the coffee counter and save yourself some time.

Billy Kwong

Thursday, October 7th, 2010 by Tina

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The salted peanuts whet our appetites. I’d love to know if these are cinnamon sticks or cassia bark…

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Lightly steamed oysters with ginger, shallots and soy

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Chinese pickled vegetables, sweet, salty and sour with crispy wonton skins sprinkled with schezuan pepper & salt

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Bugtail wontons with schezuan chilli oil

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Crispy prawn wontons with a sweet Vietnamese style dipping sauce

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Slow roasted lamb pancakes- peking duck style. The home made sauce was tasty but a little too thin for the application, it dripped everywhere! I am not a big fan of ‘thickened’ sauces (apart from gravy) as a general rule, but here it needs it.

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A standout crispy pork belly dish. Salty and moreish, with a refreshing coleslaw packed with fresh herbs to balance the richness of the meat.

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The silken tofu was delicate and beautiful with a poached egg in the centre of the plate.

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Crispy skin duck with citrus sauce

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Stir fried mushrooms, fresh, flavoursome, delicate and a wonderful foil to the rich meats we ordered.

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Pears poached in red wine with sour cream and almond praline- cleansing and light

Sichuan Peppercorn Chicken

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009 by Tina

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A clumsy ode to Spice Temple’s heavenly facing chilli and sichuan peppercorn dish.

Since eating at Spice Temple a month ago I haven’t been able to stop thinking about those feisty little peppercorns. I was chatting to a friend of mine on the phone the other night while cooking this so it got a little more crispy than intended but it just added to the intensity of flavour on the skin. Tongue numbing, aromatic, mouth watering.

I have seen Kylie Kwong toast sichuan peppercorns with sea salt in a hot pan until aromatic and then grind them up to a powder in a mortar and pestle. This is essentially what I did and then added a little smoky paprika and sugar and rubbed it into the skin of an organic chicken, added a little oil to the bird with a few cloves of unpeeled garlic inside and whacked it in a hot oven. Oh, and I threw in a few dutch cream potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks. I normally go for 220°C fan forced, 20 minutes each on its side, on its other side and on its back. I sound like Samantha from SATC.

The end result is a moist chicken with a crispy skin, with potatoes that taste more like wedges as they have absorbed all the chickeny goodness and are lightly flavoured with sichuan.

Next step is to try this with quail, or maybe duck…and I don’t think it needs the smoky paprika or sugar.

Just to stress the point, this is a roast that takes just an hour to cook, plus preparation time. So maybe realistic for a weeknight when you don’t get home too late.

Spice Temple

Friday, October 16th, 2009 by Tina

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Neil Perry’s Spice Temple is located underneath Rockpool Bar & Grill on Bligh Street in Sydney’s CBD. At first we walked past its plasma screen door, assuming it was an advertisement with its virtual shimmering silk curtains. Once we discovered that it was actually the front door we glided down the circular staircase to the industrial looking bar area. The restaurant area however couldn’t be more different. The room is warm, cosy and dark, with the centre of each table lit by a hanging light, so that each dish can be viewed clearly. This ambience is comfortable and relaxing. You can see your dining companion and food but feel bathed in shadow. Very sexy.

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The Sheep and the Monkey. I meant to have just one cocktail and then move to a civilised wine. Mmmm. The cocktails are dangerously good. Be warned. After three cocktails I thought perhaps it was time to pause.

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The Horse and the Tiger. The Tiger is my favourite. If you are not familiar with the term ‘pistachio fat-washed whisky’, do ask. They’ll tell you how its made. An amazing depth of flavour uncommon in most Sydney cocktails.

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Spinach and Sesame Salad. Sweet and tangy.

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Crispy pork belly. I don’t really have words to describe. Too good. Must have. Oh ok, found some. Sticky, salty, moreish. Feel bratty, want some now.

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Stir fried king abalone mushroom with garlic and chives. Thick, meaty, almost squeaky. Such a filling vegetable dish, delicious.

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Fish drowned in heaven facing chillies and Sichuan peppercorns (apparently Sichuan, Szechuan and Szechwan are all acceptable spellings). My favourite choice for drama alone. This dish was covered with many more dried chillies which were removed by the waiter using a spider (large wire spoon). The real star is the Sichuan peppercorn which numbs your tongue and teases you.

My only negative comment I could say about Spice Temple is the double seating. If you prefer to relax into the evening then book the later seating rather than the early one. With some restaurants you are happy to leave at a given time, but here I think you’ll want to linger a while.

Spice Temple

10 Bligh Street, Sydney

8078 1888

Martelli’s Fruit Market

Sunday, October 11th, 2009 by Tina

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I have long been a fan of Martelli’s fruit market at West Epping just on Carlingford Rd at the top of the hill near the primary school. It used to be on the way to work. I have also become a semi-regular shopper at their Cherrybrook Shopping Centre store. The Cherrybrook store has the added convenience of a decent fishmonger, a great butcher and a fabulous deli. Along with a supermarket and liquor store it makes my work a whole lot easier when everything is in the one place, but unlike the average supermarket, the quality of the produce is outstanding, fresh and reasonably priced. I say average as a disclaimer, as I know there are some supermarkets where the range and quality are fantastic, but on the whole this is what I find in the Sydney suburbs. I am still hoping in vain that one day our local IGA will become as fantastic as the one at Haberfield. Moving to Haberfield right now is not a financially viable option. :)

Anyway, I was at a baby shower the other week and got to chatting about food, again. Rouse Hill shopping centre came up and Martelli’s was mentioned. Until today I hadn’t been to the Rouse Hill Martelli’s as it is not ‘on the way’ to any of my usual destinations but is actually not too long a drive. I was surprised by how big the shop was. A wide range of fresh produce not always easy to find, all in one location. A smallgoods counter, plenty of cheeses and dairy, olive oils, jams, bread etc. plus a wide range of quality frozen goods too. They even stock a few ‘Essential Ingredient’ items such as duck fat. Good to know, if ever I am in dire need of chips cooked in duck fat. Try it sometime.

Ok now you can tell I have been watching Julia Child. I am recommending our nation eat more duck fat. Oh well. :)

African Adventure

Sunday, March 8th, 2009 by Tina

The biggest challenge with having an African dinner party was which region’s cuisine to choose, so we didn’t! We just left it quite open and this is what we ended up with…

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Clockwise: In the large white square dish is doro wat chicken, injera bread, bobotie, rice, bulgar salad, tomato salad.

Coriander Bread (Pain Nord Africain au Coriandre) Recipe

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2 packages active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm milk in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients except all-purpose flour. Stir in enough all-purpose flour to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes.

Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover; let rise until double, about 1 hour. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

Punch dough down; divide into halves. Shape each half into an 8-inch long loaf. Place loaves into two greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pans. Cover; let rise until double — 40 to 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 190 C or 375 F.

Cut lengthwise slash in top of each loaf. Bake until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped — 35 to 40 minutes; remove from pans. Cool on wire racks.

Egyptian beetroot dip

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serves: 4

ready in: 1 hour (15 mins Prep – 40 mins Cook)
Serve this beautifully vibrant dip with chargrilled pita toasts for a casual start to a barbecue, or use it as a scrumptious sandwich filler.
ingredients

5 red beetroot (1 kg)
1¼ cups (325 g) plain low-fat yoghurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ cup (60ml) lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon paprika
pepper to taste
preparation method

Cut off the beetroot stems 1 cm from the roots (no closer). Scrub the roots very gently but thoroughly, being careful not to nick the skin.

Cook the beetroot in a large pot of simmering, salted water for 40–60 minutes until tender. Drain. Allow to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, cool slightly and rub off the skins. It is a good idea to wear rubber gloves when doing this to prevent your hands from becoming stained.

Finely chop, grate or process the beetroot in a food processor, then transfer the flesh to a serving bowl.

Add the yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice, oil, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and paprika to the beetroot and mix well. Season to taste with pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until required. Serve with warm crusty bread.

Kosayi (African Dipping Sauce)

500g or 9 Baby red capsicums
90g or 3 long red hot chillies
30g or 7 small red hot or habanera* chillies
2 tbsp vegetable oil
75g sugar
75 ml white vinegar
1 tsp salt
Olive oil

*If replacing the 7 small hot chillies (with habanera chillies) you must remove the seeds and veins before blanching them in boiling

Method
A good kosayi should be not too hot, you can just feel the heat. The mixture will keep for about 6 months in the refrigerator – the older it gets the better it tastes.

Place the chillies and the whole capsicums in a large pot of cold water and bring to the boil.

Simmer for 25 min or until soft. Cover, turn off the heat and set aside to cool.
Drain and seed both chilli and capsicum, then peel the capsicum. Place in a food processor and blend to a creamy paste.

Press mixture through a fine strainer to remove any remaining skin.

Stir in sugar, oil, salt and white vinegar then place in a jar and allow at least 2 days to mature.

bobotie

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1 kg beef mince
1 large brown onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp ginger, grated or chopped
2 slices white bread
1 tbs jam
2 tbs chutney (Mrs Ball’s is the authentic safe chutney)
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 tbs vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
1/2 cup raisins (variation is 1/4 cup raisins + 1/4 cup grated apple)
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tbs curry powder (Indian spice mix)
2-4 bay leaves (fresh or dry doesn’t matter!)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Oil in pan, saute onions, ginger and garlic and remove from pan.
Saute curry powder in oil to develop flavour then add mince. Cook mince until brown and crumbly, remove from heat.
Soak bread in milk, squeeze dry and shred.  Add to mince along with onion mix.
Add salt, pepper, tumeric, cloves, vinegar, raisins, jam and chutney and mix through.
Place in baking dish, press down and top with bay leaves.
Bake for about 50 minutes @ 180 degrees. After 30 min in the oven, beat the egg and milk together and carefully pour over mince in the dish, return to oven.
Remove from oven when topping is cooked (may not need the extra 20 minutes).

rice

2 cups white rice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp sugar
1 tbs margarine
1/2 cup raisins

Boil saucepan of water. Add all ingredients except raisins to boiling water and top up water as required during cooking. About 5 min before rice is cooked, add raisins and simmer until rice is tender. Drain and serve!

chef kurt linsi’s queen of sheba salad

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700g          ripe tomatoes, cut into small wedges with seeds removed. Nicole used ‘kumatoes’.
1                   red onion, finely chopped.
1                   clove garlic, finely chopped
1                   small red chilli, finely chopped
1/2 cup      tomato sauce or ketchup
Few drops tabasco sauce
1 tbsp          vinegar
1/4 cup      olive oil
1/4 cup      medium dry sherry
1/2 tsp       worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp       salt
grind of     black pepper
In a bowl Combine salad ingredients. Combine sauce ingredients. Marinate the tomato mixture in the sauce. Serve in sauce dishes without lettuce or drain well and place in the center of the Injera bread.

bulgar salad

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225g (8 oz) bulgur wheat
285mL (1/2 pint) boiling water
4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
salt
pepper
1 red capsicum, grilled, peeled and sliced
1 bunch of plump spring onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cucumber, coarsely chopped
115 g (4 oz) feta cheese, crumbled
lime wedges, to serve
oil-cured black olives, optional

Place the bulgur wheat in a large bowl, add the boiling water and leave to soak for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally with a fork, until the water has been absorbed. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice and seasoning. Pour oil mixture over the bulgur wheat, add the herbs and mix well. Then mix in the remaining ingredients. Cover and chill until required. Serve garnished with lime wedges.

doro wat chicken

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Feeds 10-20

Wat
1 whole chicken, plus an extra couple of chicken breasts or thighs
3 lemons
500ml of white vinegar
5 kg brown onions
50g finely ground cardamom seeds
100ml olive oil
100ml Nit’r Qibe (spiced clarified butter)
6 tbsp berbere spice mix (chilli powder)
4 tbsp tomato paste

Mixed spice
2 tbsp cardamom seeds
2 tbsp nigella seeds
2 tbsp ajwain (or fennel seeds)
1 tbsp African basil leaves, seed and leaves
2 tsp black pepper corns
3 tbsp salt
2 tbsp ground black pepper
12 hard boiled eggs

Remove the skin completely from the chicken and cut into 21 portions. (This is the traditional Ethiopian way.) Any excess blood or fat on the chicken needs to be removed, as it will affect the flavour of the sauce. After the chicken has been cleaned, soak it in the vinegar and some wedges of lemon in a non metallic bowl.

Finely dice the onions and place them in a large pot with the lid on over a medium heat. Do not add oil or liquid. Cook the onions until they have reduced by at least half. This process usually takes about an hour.

Once the onions have reduced, add the olive oil cook for 30 mins. Then add the spiced ghee (nit’r qibe) and berbere and stir into the mixture. Add the 21 portions of chicken. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the temperature and allow the chicken to cook through, making sure the onions do not stick to the bottom of the pot.

Grind together the mixed spice ingredients and once the chicken is partially cooked, add the mixed spice and stir through. Add salt. Allow the mixture to simmer slowly and stir occasionally.

While the mixture is cooking, prepare the eggs. Bring water to the boil, add salt and hard-boil the eggs. Once cooked, peel the eggs and allow to cool.

Cut vertical groves into the eggs to ensure flavour seeps in. Spoon out some of the excess oil that settles on top of the mixture. Add the eggs when you are about to turn off the heat.

This is better the next day and even better the day after that. Just make sure you reheat thoroughly.

N.B. A berbere spice mix is available from Herbie’s spice shop in Rozelle and it includes many of the spices mentioned in the ‘mixed spice’ section of the recipe and not so much chilli, so I used 6 tablespoons of Herbie’s berbere mix and added the tomato paste to round out the flavour and add a redder colour as it was bit dull brown and too clovey. The heat seems to come more from the pepper than the chilli so add some more chilli if your spice mix is not hot and you like spicy food.

Serve with Injera bread. Here is the recipe for it below…

injera bread

makes 8-10

1 cup amaranth flour (available at health food shops, you could also try buckwheat or wholemeal for a nutty flavour)

2 cups plain flour

3 cups water

pinch salt

Mix flours with water until smooth in a bowl, cover.  Leave to sit for 2-3 days (even overnight will do if you don’t have time, it just won’t be as sour) until it starts to bubble. During this time you can mix it a few times with a spoon but otherwise just leave it covered. You want crepe batter consistency so if too thin you can pour off some of the liquid that has risen to the top before you mix and cook the batter.

Stir in the salt. Heat a large frypan until when a few drops of water are added the water dances on the surface and evaporates. Quickly wipe the surface of the pan with a paper towel dipped in oil. Add a ladle of the mixture and cook slowly until air bubbles rise to the top. Do not let it brown, and make sure that it is not too thick. You can tip the pan so that excess batter runs to the edges. Do not turn over, only one side gets cooked, just wait until it is cooked through then slide off to a large plate. Repeat until the batter is used up.

Cover with clingfilm once cooled until ready to serve. You can cover the plate with one injera and use it to mop up sauce, by breaking off a piece with your fingers and any extra injera can be rolled up into a ‘cigar’ and cut in half and used to dip into sauces.

m’hanncha (the snake) with caramelised fig

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* 150g chopped almonds
* 75g granulated (raw) sugar
* 1 tablespoon butter, melted
* 2 teaspoons orange flower water
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 8 sheets filo pastry
* 40g butter
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 cup icing sugar
* 8 fresh figs
* 4 tablespoons brown sugar

Put the sugar, butter, orange flower water, almonds and cinnamon in a blender and blend until smooth.

Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions and place each lengthways down the side of one piece of filo pastry. Roll the pastry around the mixture. The finished thing should resemble a sausage shape.

Coil it into a kind of snail’s shell then set aside and cover with a damp tea towel. Repeat this with all 8 pieces.

Heat the butter in a large pan and then fry the pastries until they are browned on both sides.

Sprinkle the pastries with cinnamon and icing sugar and serve. They can be left to cool if you wish to eat them cold.

Figs: Depending on the quality of the figs, they can be sliced or quartered and eaten fresh if very juicy or if a little dry then cut in half from top to bottom, lay cut side up on a baking tray lined with baking paper and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake in a 180C oven for 5-10 minutes until the tops start to caramelise. Keep an eye on them as they burn quickly.

A dollop of thick sweetened yoghurt flavoured with a little cinnamon and honey would be a delicious addition.

Wine

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We had a couple of bottles of South African red wine, called Pinotage, which were so different to each other you would have sworn they were different types of grapes.  Nice to try though.

Ottolenghi

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 by Tina

Another wonderful cookbook received at Christmas was called Ottolenghi. They have a few shops/cafes in London and are known for delicious salads, breads, desserts and exciting flavours. I tried one of the eggplant recipes the other night.  Marinated aubergine with tahini and oregano. I’d run out of tahini so just made it with what I had- the lemon, garlic, chilli, herbs and olive oil with the richness of roasted eggplant was so good.

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The two founders of Ottolenghi are both from Jerusalem, Sami from the Arab east and Yotam from the Jewish west. Their story is unusual and moving. They say much of their flavour inspiration is drawn from memories of childhood and streetfood. This is such an interesting book, keep an eye out for it and if anyone sees it in Sydney let me know as I have friends wanting to steal my copy kindly sent from the UK. Apparently it has been spotted in Melbourne…

Parramatta Markets

Sunday, January 18th, 2009 by Tina

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On Saturday morning I visited Parramatta markets in Church Street Mall for the first time, after meaning to head down there for ages. It was small but worth going for the wonderful vegetable stall and is infinitely more relaxing than some larger markets where the hustle can get tiresome.

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Beautiful zucchini flowers, carrots, snake beans and purple sweet potatoes

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Variety of pumpkins, with Pink Fur Apple Potatoes in background. The potatoes got washed, thickly sliced and chucked into the bottom of the roasting tray which had free range chooks, sage, lemon, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and a bit of rosemary/lemon salt. Absolutely delicious. Please try them. Should be great in potato salad too, like kipflers.

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Chilli being bundled into bags

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Beautiful unusual varieties of tomatoes.  I bought the dark cherry tomatoes, yum.

There were plenty of other great stalls too to check out next time.

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I bought some good looking basil from the herb stall which is now replanted in a larger pot and happily lapping up the sunshine on our balcony.

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Jamaican BBQ

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A vast range of Jams and preserves. If you like the less common varieties you are sure to find something here along with the usual favourites.

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Phoenix Restaurants

Sunday, January 18th, 2009 by Tina

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There’s something to be said for efficient food. Not necessarily in the preparation, but in the eating and the service. Not exactly fast food, but not slow food either. There are times when on a whim the idea of watching a new film at the local cinema sounds pretty good, and after the drama of finding a parking spot close by, a restaurant near the cinema holds great appeal.

So we visited Hilltop Phoenix with hungry bellies and an hour and a half up our sleeves. It could go either way, an hour and a half is plenty of time to eat unless it is busy, so on a Saturday night this is a bit of an ask. Luckily it’s still early and we’ve just missed the young family rush and have arrived before the later-arriving leisurely diners arrive.

After much indecision we decide to splurge on the Peking duck, it’s about $50 for two courses. First course is the pancakes, then choose how the rest of the duck flesh is prepared, either in a stir-fry with noodles or sang choy bau. I needn’t have worried about finishing the pancakes, they were perfectly powdery and soft in contrast to the crisp and rich duck skin, sharpness of the shallots and sweetness of the thick hoisin sauce. I could eat this forever.

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Peking Duck

When the lettuce leaves arrive I’m curious as to what’s in the filling apart from the duck which is finely chopped, along with mushroom, onion, sesame seeds, sliced shallots, deep fried vermicelli and something crisp but the flavour alludes me. It’s familiar, bamboo shoot? I wonder, as it seems to be more about texture than flavour. I ask the waitress, she only knows the Chinese name, which is sun (sounds like soon) but she goes away to find out the English translation, and I’m pleased to find out it was indeed bamboo shoot. We make our film with plenty of time and consider it a successful dinner, if a little rich.

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Sang Choi Bau

Our normal visit to Hilltop Phoenix involves Yum Cha on a Sunday mid-morning, and it’s now routine to tell the host how many in our party, grab a raffle ticket and take our place in the hopeful and hungry crowd, beadily eyeing-off diners who look ready to vacate. Even when busy it’s only a ten or fifteen minute wait. If you are a small group of two or four your chances of getting a table quickly are even better.

The Phoenix Group of restaurant has four restaurants in Sydney which are run by sisters Anita Yuen and Alice Lee. Hilltop Phoenix in Castle Hill Towers; Rhodes Phoenix at the top of Rhodes shopping centre; Manly Phoenix on the East Esplanade and Sky Phoenix at the top of Skygarden on Castlereigh Street in the city.

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Roast duck with choy sum in background

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Crispy fried rolls filled with prawn and dim sims in background

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Cha Siu Baau (BBQ pork buns)

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Steamed prawn dumplings

At Hilltop Phoenix the usual Yum Cha favourites are available, with dishes such as roast pork and duck floating around regularly for my dining companion. I’m satisfied with the many varieties of steamed dumplings, and my only gripe would be that I have to ask for chilli sauce, but when I do it arrives promptly.

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Sliced BBQ pork

My coveted dish of the moment is jin deui, red bean paste surrounded in a chewy pastry with a peanut on top then deep fried. It truly is heaven and I can always fit these in no matter how much I’ve eaten. I can’t find it on any trolleys so I order it from the kitchen. If there’s no more jin deui, as sometimes happens if you come too late, there is always dan tat, egg custard in flaky pastry, still warm if you are lucky; or mango pancakes, thin and moist and filled with chilled mango pieces and a fluffy sweet cream, perfectly soft and delicate so that one cannot help but make a bit of a mess. It’s all part of the experience. At around $45 for two greedy people it is an indulgent lunch but then again, we probably don’t need much for dinner now.

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Mango pancakes

In competition with Hilltop’s Yum Cha offer is the Excellent Chinese Restaurant outside Carlingford Court which offers a smaller venue and equally delicious food, but perhaps less range of dishes. I surprise the waiter by ordering Bo Lei tea which has a deeper, darker colour and flavour that is refreshing and cuts through the oilier dishes. He rewards my enthusiasm by pouring the tea with such grace that I feel inspired to tap the table with my knuckles to say thank you. He smiles and I feel welcome here in a way that a bigger venue cannot achieve.

If it’s tasty, efficient food you are after in the north west of Sydney, you would do well at both Hilltop Phoenix and the Excellent Chinese Restaurant, but perhaps your budget should dictate your final decision. After dining at the Excellent Chinese Restaurant your wallet will be thankful. We left content after five dishes and only $25 out of pocket. They may not have had the deep fried dessert that I love, but this is something I could do most weekends and feel good about.

Barramundi

Saturday, January 17th, 2009 by Tina

At the risk of opening Pandora’s Box, I am going to show you what I’ve been growing in my cupboard. Part laziness, part curiosity, one dark cupboard and a frisky sweet potato makes…

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a lobster!

Dave was entertained by this, until he learned that the sweet potato lobster then became

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Lobster Salad! Made in true vegetarian style, with no lobster, just roasted sweet potato, blanched green beans, red capsicum, with a macadamia oil, lime and chilli dressing.

All this was really a side for

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Whole Barramundi, cooked in foil on the BBQ with sliced garlic, ginger and lemon in its belly and some extra lemon juice on top.

The extra randomness of this post is an homage to the geeks who make my life easier (great IT knowledge and obsession to make things work at optimum efficiency) and at the same time highly entertaining. They admit this grudgingly.

Edit: The barramundi made a guest appearance as the Bigger Fish in this Darths & Droids strip.

Edit 2: In response to some of the comments on this post, in no particular order:

  1. Is Barramundi ‘sushable’? How many times does a new word need to be used to become listed? Anyway, back to the Barramundi. Not to my knowledge. Tuna, salmon and kingfish are the most common and delicious sushi found at Japanese restaurants and sushi bars in Australia. That’s not to say it shouldn’t be attempted…
  2. Macadamia Nut Oil- this seems to only be available in Australia, but you can also use another nut oil such as walnut or even Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO- also a Naboo-sounding name) with a splash of balsamic vinegar. I often use this instead. If you come across caramelised balsamic vinegar this is also tasty.
  3. Red capsicum is indeed red pepper, also:
  • Eggplant is Aubergine
  • Zucchini is Courgette
  • Rocket is Arugula
  • Coriander is Cilantro

They are all the ones I can think of right now!

Also, there is no D&D convention planned here. Yet. I wonder how many Barramundi would fit on our BBQ? Mmm…

Edit 3: Ok, I will clarify my comment on Macadamias. Yes, we all know they are native to Australia. They are also native to New Caledonia and Indonesia, but in terms of being grown commercially, they are available in Hawaii though apparently the industry is declining there due to poor weather and pestilence (ref: Wikipedia).