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Prawn, fennel and coriander Gow Gee – steamed dumplings

I created these little treats because I was searching for a light, healthy but hot appetiser that would complement an Indian dinner without filling guests up too much.

Steaming these dumplings is easy and quick and you can do this just before or as guests arrive which if you want to use these as canapés which works well.

The ready made “gow  gee” pastry is easy to find in Asian food store refrigerator section and very simple to work with. You will also need a steaming basket or steamer.

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I used fennel, ginger, cummin, fresh coriander and ginger to add subtle Indian flavours to the prawn filling. Most steamed dumplings recipes don’t require you to cook the filling beforehand but I decided to so I could roast the fennel seeds and use cooked onion. I didn’t use any chilli in these as I planned to serve with chilli oil on the side.

Ingredients

8 large, green or uncooked prawns – shelled, deveined and chopped into medium dice
1/2 onion very finely diced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tspn fresh ginger crushed to a paste
1 tspn fennel seeds
1/4 tspn cummin powder
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
Water and pastry brush
20 gow gee pastry wrappers
chilli oil or sauce to serve with dumplings

 

Method

Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat

Add fennel seeds and fry until fragrant but take care not to burn

Add onion and fry until transparent, then add ginger and cumin powder and sauté for half a minute

Add prawns and a pinch of salt and sauté for just a minute or two until they just turn pink.

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Remove the prawns, add coriander, mix through and set aside in a bowl to cool completely.

 

Take one gow gee wrapper at a time and place a teaspoon of the filling in the middle, brush edges of pastry with a little bit of water, fold over pastry pleating and pressing together the edges to seal completely. Repeat until all the filling has been used. Makes approximately fifteen to twenty dumplings.

Lightly oil steamer basket and place dumplings in it spaced without touching each other. Place steamer over boiling water, cover and steam for ten to fifteen minutesIngredients until wrappers are translucent and tender.

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Serve with chilli oil or sauce to the side.

Irish Sourdough Soda Bread

This looks like a great recipe for Irish Soda bread to go with my Irish Lamb Stew compliments of the intriguingly named Mouth Brothels blog….

It is St. Patrick’s Day and the most Irish bread I know is soda bread. Basically a bread made from baking soda, buttermilk, salt and flour, it was long a staple of thrifty homemakers. Soda bread is a quick bread with little kneading or rise time, so by adding my sourdough starter, I basically quadrupled […]

via Sourdough Rosemary Soda Bread — Mouth Brothels

Irish Lamb Stew for St Patrick’s Day

This is an old family favourite stew made extra delicious by the addition of crispy fried bacon and the use of white pepper. I love lots of fresh thyme in it as well.

Perfect way to celebrate St Patrick’s Day no matter where you are in the world🍀🍀🍀

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Irish Lamb Stew

Ingredients
5-6 lamb neck chops,with some of the meat cut into smaller chunks off the bone
1 tspn salt
1 tspn black pepper
1 tspn white pepper
½ cup flour
½ cup water
Vegetable oil and butter
4 cloves of garlic crushed
2 onions sliced into thickish rings
Chicken stock
2 carrots chopped into medium size chunks
2 desiree potatoes chopped into quarters
Half a bunch of thyme leaves stripped from stalks
2 bay leaves
1 cup white wine

Method
1. Place bacon in frying pan and cook until crisp and fat has rendered into pan
2. Put lamb, salt, black pepper and flour into mixing bowl and coat lamb evenly
3. Brown lamb in batches on high heat in frying pan – might need to add butter to pan which helps brown lamb when bacon fat runs out
4. Once finished with frying pan deglaze it by adding a cup of water and keep pan juices aside
5. Place a thin layer of oil in the casserole pot, then add garlic and half the onion and sauté until onions become golden and transparent
6. Add bacon pieces, lamb, white pepper, thyme and bay leaves to casserole pot and cover with wine, deglazed pan juices and chicken stock – simmer for 40 minutes-1 hour.
7. Taste to see if extra pepper and/or salt is needed
8. Add potatoes, carrots and rest of onion to lamb and simmer for 20-25 minutes until potatoes and carrots are tender
9. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve with irish soda bread

Indian Spiced Crab with crispy wafers

This makes a delicious canapé served with crispy thin wafers or mini pappadums on the side. Also be perfect on betel leaves if you can source them. Buying the pre-packed  crabmeat makes this a very quick and easy recipe to make. I made this recipe up on Christmas Day and it received good reviews from the family so thought I would share…unfortunately no end product photos!

Prep time: 5 minutes  Cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients
1 x 400g/500g tub of crab meat (available from seafood shops or supermarkets in Australia) – fork through crab meat to break chunks up
1 onion finely diced
1 tablespoon of ginger and garlic paste (2 cloves garlic and equivalent ginger ground to a fine paste)
2 sprigs of curry leaves removed from stalk
1/2 cinammon stick (preferably cinnamon bark)
1/2 teaspoon cummin powder
1 red chilli finely diced (can be omitted)
1 tspn black mustard seeds or nigella seeds
1.5 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
salt to taste
Handful of coriander leaves, very finely chopped

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Method:
Heat oil in non-stick pan over medium heat
Add cinammon bark and curry leaves to flavour oil until curry leaves stop spluttering
Add onions and cook slowly (sweat) over medium heat until translucent and tender
Add ginger and garlic paste and sautéed for 1 minute
Add mustard seeds, chilli and cummin powder and let heat through for 1 minute
Add crabmeat and cook through for 3-4 minutes to allow crab to absorb spice flavours – – continue to break up chunks into crab flakes
Taste to see if salt required
Remove curry leaves and cinammon stick
Add very finely chopped coriander leaves and mix through
Serve in bowl with a spoon with crackers on the side or make up individual serves by placing a spoonful of the crab mixture on each cracker

Christmas Turkey Stuffing

A reminder of the family stuffing recipe!

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It’s been a very busy lead up to Christmas so there hasn’t been much time to post recipes but there has been a lot of cooking going on! We have already celebrated Christmas with family  in Melbourne and Sydney. And the now the requests are coming in for the ham glaze and turkey stuffing recipes are coming in so I thought I’d share with everyone.

This stuffing recipe has been in my family forever and I don’t know where it originated from. It doesn’t have fruit or nuts in it but the carrots and onions add sweetness and the finely chopped chicken liver adds texture and an almost gamey flavour. White pepper is essential and adds a tangy spiciness quite different to black pepper.

I use the stuffing in full turkey roast, turkey breast roll and also whole chicken roast. Highly advisable to make a seperate dish of it in…

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Review: Sassy Sarong still going strong in Seminyak, Bali

Recently some foodie friends of mine visited Seminyak on a week long rest, relaxation and fine dining tour. When I requested their top 3 picks they admitted that despite trying many of the hot newcomer restaurants they felt that Will Meryck’s Sarong restaurant in Jalan Petitinget was still their top choice for the food, service and atmosphere.

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After very many years of visiting Bali I have been to Sarong on quite a few occasions including having a great time here on New Year’s Eve 2013. We had stopped in to Seminyak for a few days on this trip to stop in to some of the great restaurants by the coast before heading to Ubud – of course Sarong was also top of our list to go back to. We booked ahead via their website which is easy to do and highly recommended because it fills up quickly even in the low season.

We arrived to met by their traditional warm welcome and we’re seated in the beautiful garden. The warm interiors and gorgeous lighting throughout creates a magical setting for evening dining in particular.

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Sarong does great cocktails and I couldn’t go past the Refreshing Raspberry Mojito to begin and we ordered a bottle of D’Arenberg Shiraz to go with dinner. Wines are expensive due to taxes and in this case the wine was almost half our bill but was worth it to complement the great food.

For entrees we couldn’t go past the betel leaves with raw tuna and the signature pork belly with Sichuan pepper and a divinely Tamarindo and tamarind chutney. Knowing the generous size of the mains we settled on the stir fried chilli prawns with an interesting sauce featuring curry leaves and Indonesians flavours and the Bebe Madura – twice cooked duck with Balinese sambals. For a bit of green alongside, we chose sautéed green beans with Sambal Olek. (Unfortunately no room for dessert!)

 

Needless to say the sassy sauces and variety of cooking techniques used for this variety of dishes, along with super fresh ingredients and herbs all combined with trademark Sarong service resulted in another wonderful dining experience at Sarong. If you haven’t been there yet – it is a must do on any visit to Seminyak!

Thanks to Sarong Bali for the great images from your Facebook page and website http://www.sarongbali.com

 

Review: Ji whizz in Canggu, Bali

We were recommended to try the newly opened  at Ji Restaurant at the Hotel Tugu in Canggu by a friend so took a taxi from Seminyak for the roughly 35 minute trip, depending on traffic for dinner.

Arriving at Hotel Tugu in Canggu, we were immediately impressed by the truly special setting created by the huge Garuda statue and furnishings in the hotel lobby. The restaurant and bar are situated next to the Hotel Tugu whose owners have an amazing collection of Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian antiques and collectibles which feature in their hotels and venues.

We started with cocktails on the rooftop bar overlooking the busy beachside bars of Canggu with glimpses of the ocean over the rooftops, watching the sun setting as we sipped on our literally smoking CoCo Sexo cocktails, a delicious mixture of pineapple, rum and coconut juice served in coconut jars over dry ice. The bar area is eclectically decorated with beautiful artisan lights and plantings with indoor and outdoor seating.

Ji restaurant itself is housed in a 300+ year old Chinese temple that the owners transported to Bali and rebuilt, filling it with an amazing collection of antique prints and photographs, sculptures and statues. The restaurant furnishings are also suitably matched to give an overall ambience that transports you to another era. Ji means temple in both Chinese and Japanese.

The menu features Japanese fusion cuisine, with beautifully presented fresh sashimi and sushi platters, tempura, noodles and soups. We loved the succulently crispy tempura prawns and the “melt in your mouth” Angus Kobe beef tenderloin served with tangerine. The seaweed salad with crab and thinly sliced fennel was a perefect balance of sweet and salty and was dressed for success!

This restaurant is definitely not a “try hard” in either the food or decore departments – it’s the real thing, good value for the experience and highly worth the visit to Canggu. The Hotel staff called us a car for the return trip and we were already dreaming of our next visit on the drive back to Seminyak.

Prawn Caldine with tamarind and ground almonds

This recipe is inspired by Rick Stein’s version with a few adjustments to make it an easy mid-week dish. It is lightly spiced but the addition of green chillies adds a hint of heat. The tamarind water adds a sweet sour component which complements prawns or fish brilliantly. The ground almonds add another dimension and help to thicken the sauce but can be omitted if you prefer.

Prep time: 15 minutes  Cooking time: 15 minutes
Ingredients:

500g fresh or frozen prawns(defrosted), preferably with tails left on OR 500g firm white fish
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp cummin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 onion thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic and equivalent amount of fresh ginger
2 tablespoons ground almonds (optional)
400ml coconut milk
3 tablespoons tamarind water (made using tamarind seeds or concentrate)
4-5 mild green chillies, cut into long strips
coriander to garnish
salt
vegetable oil

Method
Place peeled (and defrosted) prawns/fish chopped in pieces in a bowl and marinate for 10 minutes or so in white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

If using tamarind seeds, soak a handful in 1/2 a cup of boiling water, or mix 1 tspn of tamarind concentrate with 3 tablespoons of hot water. Set aside.

Dry fry cummin seeds, coriander seeds and black peppercorns in a frying pan until just fragrant over medium heat, taking care not to burn. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before grinding to a fine powder. Add turmeric powder to spice mixture.

Grind or blend ginger and garlic together to  a paste.

Slice onions and green chillies finely.

Heat oil in a pan and add onions and cook until onions start going translucent, add ginger and garlic paste and ground spices and mix through stirring until fragrant, then add coconut milk, tamarind water, ground almonds(if using)and bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste.

Drain the moisture from the prawns/fish, then add them to the coconut milk mixture with half the sliced green chillies, cook for 5-7 minutes until the prawns are pink and just cooked or the fish is cooked through.

Garnish with coriander and serve with basmati rice.

Serves 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noodle Soup with Thai Red Roast Pork

The weather in Sydney this weekend has been awful with very high winds and torrential rain. It feels like winter has really arrived. Of course this  is perfect weather for heart warming soups, roast and casseroles. What a great excuse for comfort food!

This soup is a perfect antidote to winter blues and just as good in summer as it has a light chicken stock base. You can really season this to your taste and leave out the fresh chillies if you prefer a less spicy option.

You will need Thai Red Roast Pork for this recipe which will extend your preparation time if you are making yourself and not “cheating” and buying it at your closest Chinese BBQ store. Same goes for the chicken stock – of course homemade is always nicer but if you don’t have time or any frozen in the fridge then store bought is fine. It is good to fry the finely chopped garlic to  a crisp; and also roast and crush the peanuts, so that is out of the way before you assemble the soup itself. Once you have these key ingredients in hand, everything else is a breeze.

Prep time: 15 minutes    Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
2.5 litres chicken stock
300g of roast red pork thinly sliced
50 g bean sprouts
4-5  iceberg lettuce leaves very finely sliced
200g dried egg or rice noodles (I use fine egg noodles)
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce, depending how salty your stock is
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped and fried to a crisp
1-2 fresh red chillies chopped (optional)

Garnish:
choppped coriander leaves
2 sping onions finely sliced
dried chilli flakes
roughly chopped roasted peanuts

Method
Heat one tablespoon vegetable oil in a small non-stick frying pan and fry garlic until golden and crisp, take care not to burn. Remove with slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain. (I make extra fried garlic to use as a garnish as well.)
Dry roast peanuts in a frying pan, then crush roughly in a mortar and pestle or roughly chop
Slice lettuce leaves, coriander and spring onions finely. Keep seperately.


Bring stock to a boil, then bring to a simmer. Add pork, sugar and 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, then add noodles and simmer for about 5-8 minutes until tender. Add fresh chopped chillies at this point if using.


Taste to see if additional fish sauce needed
Add fried garlic, bean sprouts and lettuce.
Immediately turn off the heat and serve in deep soup bowls and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with other garnishes to the side.

Thai Red Roast Pork

This is a succulent roast pork recipe that is so easy to make. As well as being delicious thinly sliced and accompanied with cucumbers as a centrepiece of a Thai meal, the leftovers are delicious in Thai Pork Noodle Soup. If you can’t be bothered making it, of course you can buy red roast pork readymade from your local Chinatown.

Prep time: 5 minutes Marinate: minimum 2 hours or overnight

Cooking time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:
1 kg of pork loin fillets
1/2 teaspoon red food colouring
1/4 cup of water
1 tablespoon each of fish sauce, hoisin sauce, light soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine or sherry
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
3 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
2 star anise crushed
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Coriander to garnish

Method

Put all ingredients except pork, water and red food colouring in a blender and blend until a smooth paste form

Mix red food colouring and water in steel or ceramic bowl

Add pork and using gloves massage food colouring, then marinade into meat, cover with plastic wrap

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Set aside in refigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight

Pre-heat oven to 230 degrees celcius

Put pork on roasting rack and keep marinade for basting

Cook pork for 10 minutes to create a “crust”, then lower heat to 180 degrees and baste regularly with marinade, cook for another 45-50 minutes at least. Check meat to ensure it is cooked – Be careful not to cook too long as it will dry out.

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Serve warm after resting for 10 minutes, then slicing. Goes well with sliced cucumber and Thai sauces or use in stir fries and soups.
Serves 4-6

Homestyle Osso Bucco

As winter approaches here in Australia slow cooked Osso Bucco is a great recipe to warm the soul. Osso bucco is the cross-cut shank of veal featuring the marrow bone. You can use beef osso bucco but they tend to be much bigger and take longer to cook. I really prefer the smaller veal osso bucco. Order from your butcher if you need to. The meat in this recipe is slow cooked until tender and just falling off the bone and the marrow becomes soft and adds great flavour to the sauce. sucking the marrow out of the bones is not elegant but highly recommended! Served with a zingy gremolata, creamy mash and a fresh rocket and fennel salad, this a fabulous one pot wonder dish that will impress family and friends. It is very simple to cook and is economical as well with a short, sharp ingredients list.

Prep time: 20 minutes  Cooking time: 2 hours

Ingredients:
12 small veal osso bucco (about 1.5kg)
1 cup plain flour for dusting osso bucco
100 grams unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions diced finely
2 carrots diced finely
2-3 cloves of garlic very finely chopped
3 stalks celery diced finely
400g of canned diced tomatoes
1.5 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine
salt and black pepper to taste
half a bunch of parsley finely chopped
Fine zest of 2 lemons preferably microplaned or vey finely chopped

Method
Melt half the butter in a large heavy based casserole pot, big enough to fit the osso bucco and other ingredients in.

Roll the osso bucco one by one in flour and then brown well in the butter, doing this in small batches and adding more butter to pot until all the osso bucco is browned. remove from pot and set aside.

Add olive oil to pan, heat and then add onions, half the garlic, carrots and celery, Cook gently until onion is golden and soft.

Add the osso bucco to the pot, then tomatoes, white wine and chicken stock. Add 1 tspoon salt and 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 1.5-2 hours until osso bucco is tender. If required carefully remove osso bucco from sauce and allow sauce to reduce to a tick gravy consistency, then return osso bucco to sauce and reheat before serving.

While osso bucco is cooking prepare parsley, lemon zest and half the garlic and mix together with a pinch of salt. This is the gremolata for sprinkling on  the osso bucco when served.

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Homestyle osso bucco with gremolata and creamy mashed potatoes

Osso bucco is great with creamy polenta, risotto to mash. I serve it with a sharp green rocket and baby spinach salad with finely shaved fennel – all gorgeous Italian inspired flavours that compliment the rich main course perfectly.

 

 

 

Loving my Liebster Award

Thank you to Remya of The Unique Medley for my Liebster Award nomination. Remya’s blog really does feature a unique and diverse medley of Indian, Mexican and Chinese recipes inspired by home cooking. This is my second Liebster Award nomination and I am undertaking the challenge this time to share some information about myself and help promote the blogs that I follow that I really enjoy.

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THE OFFICIAL RULES OF THE LIEBSTER AWARD

If you have been nominated for The Liebster award and choose to ACCEPT it, write a blog post about it in which you:-

1. thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.

2. display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)

3. answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.

4. provide 11 random facts about yourself.

5. nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)

6. create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

7. list these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:

8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!

ELEVEN ANSWERS TO ELEVEN QUESTIONS

  1. What inspired you to start a blog? My friends and family often asked me for my recipes and it is a great way to share my cooking and eating adventures with them and others around the world.
  2. What would you consider as your greatest strength? Resilience -being able to weather tough times and make the most of the good times
  3. If you won the lottery what would be your first reaction? I would probably cry with joy
  4. What is your most essential kitchen appliance? Why? The mini spice grinder my son Nick gave me one Christmas. It is grinds up wet and dry spices quickly and is easy to clean and doesn’t take up a lot of space in the cupboard!
  5. What would your dream job be? Being a full-time food and travel blogger!
  6. What’s your favourite fruit? Bananas
  7. Have you ever helped out an injured animal? Yes, an injured cockatoo (Australian bird). I moved it off a busy road on my way to a formal dinner and called animal rescue service to come and assist it.
  8. Who was your favourite teacher at school and why? My English teachers – because I always loved reading the books and creative writing.
  9. Do you like vanilla or chocolate cake? Chocolate of course!
  10. Which fictional character do you wish was real? President Jed Bartlett in West Wing – because he would beat Donald Trump in an election
  11. Who is your role model? Nelson Mandela

ELEVEN RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME

  1. I love playing scrabble
  2. I have dual citizenship – South Africa and Australia
  3. Swimming is my favourite form of exercise
  4. I love the beach and ocean
  5. I am passionate about my AFL football team, the Sydney Swans
  6. I am  always planning my next overseas trip
  7. I love researching restaurants and food experiences
  8. I would like to have more creative pursuits like art
  9. I enjoy helping others to learn and develop
  10. I used to enjoy designing and making my own clothes when I was at school
  11. I love the House of Cards TV series

MY FIVE BLOG NOMINATIONS

  1.  Tasty Eats
  2. Foodie on Board
  3. Chey Chey from the Bay
  4. Elderflower and Rum
  5. Gastronomy Singapore

MY QUESTIONS FOR NOMINEES

  1. What inspires your blog?
  2. Where is your dream location to live?
  3. What is your favourite food?
  4. How do you relax?
  5. What is your favourite holiday location?
  6. What is your all time favourite movie or book?
  7. Can you speak another language other than English? And if so, which one/s?
  8. Do you own a pet and if so, what is it’s name?
  9. Where  was your first house?
  10. Who taught you how to cook?
  11. What and where is your favourite restaurant?

Thanks for all the great blogging you all do! I look forward to seeing your responses😀

Spicy Prawn Rice with carrots, peas and mushrooms

This is a delicious combination of ingredients that is lovely as a dish on its own with a yoghurt raita and salad, or served alongside  grilled chicken or lamb. It’s like an Indian risotto but you don’t have to stand over it stirring!  Perfect for entertaining as it can be made ahead of time – it’s even better the day after! It’s also great for a shared spread or picnic as it can be served at room temperature.

You just need to allow prep time as there a few steps prior to assembling the dish and cooking in the oven. You can also leave out or reduce the chilli powder and green chillies to make it less spicy.

Prep time: 30 minutes  Cooking time: 1 hour
Ingredients:

500g green prawns shelled and deveined
1.5-2 cups basmati rice
2 medium carrots roughly diced
350 grams of button mushrooms roughly diced
1/2 cup of peas
2 large onions sliced in rings
150 grams of butter for frying prawns
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil for frying prawns
1.5 teaspoons chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons cummin powder
1 stalk of curry leaves
stick of cinnamon
4 cardamom pods(optional)
1 teaspoon cummin seeds
4 large mild green chillies chopped
2 teaspoons crushed ginger and garlic paste
1 teaspoons salt

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius

Place peeled and deveined prawns in a bowl and add chilli powder, turmeric powder and cummin powder. Mix through and leave aside

Par boil rice for 10 minutes in salted water. until half cooked, par boil diced carrots seperately in salted water – strain rice and carrots and set aside

Slice onions into rings and chop up green chillies into thin rings

Heat oil and butter in a large non-stick frying pan and fry prawns until just turning pink, remove prawns from oil and set aside

In same oil and pan, add cinnamon stick, cummin seeds, cardamom pods, and curry leaves and fry gently for a minute or two

Add onions, green chillies and ginger garlic paste and fry gently until onions are transparent stirring from time to time, to avoid sticking to pan – remove onion mixture from oil and put into a deep casserole dish or pot with lid that can fit all the ingredients

Add in rice, prawns, carrots, peas, mushrooms to onion mixture and mix through so ingredients are evenly distributed

Mix 1/2 teaspoon of salt with 3/4 cup of water and pour over rice mixture
Cover with lid and place in oven for one hour or until rice is fluffy and moisture has evaporated. Sit for at least 15 minutes before serving

Delicious just on it’s own with yoghurt and a green salad or as a side with grilled chicken or lamb

Review: New York Nuance at Jean Georges’ Nougatine

It seemed only apt in the midst of the US primaries and all the hype about Donald Trump’s candidacy that we vist Jean Georges at the Trump Hotel on West Central Park. Recommended by friends and heralded as one of the best restaurants by Michelin judges and the foodie community, Chef Jean Georges Vongerichten’s stunningly located and beautifully designed restaurant is not short of acclaim.

Adjacent to the formal Jean-Georges restaurant is the more casual but still very elegant Nougatine dining room and outdoor Terrace dining. We had heard about the very reasonably priced Prix Fixe lunch menu – 3 courses for USD38 , so we made sure we booked in ahead of time.

Arriving on a crisp, New York early Spring day for lunch, we were welcomed by the equally crisp(but warm) and professional Jean Georges reception staff. We were privileged to have General Manager Phillipe Vongerichten, Jean Georges’ brother, supervising proceedings on the day we visited – watching the floor like a hawk and elegantly keeping an eye on the dishes emerging from the immaculate open plan kitchen and the seamless service. You certainly never feel like you are getting “second best” being in Nougatine rather than the main restaurant.

The wine list is of course extensive but includes reasonably priced wines to complement your meal as well as out of this world offerings!

We were both in the mood for salad to start so chose the Shrimp Salad with avocado, tomato and Champagne sauce and the Warm Duck Confit Salad with Spring greens and grapes. The salads had similar crisp, leafy lettuces as a base but the individual combinations of sauces, herbs and accompaniments were deliciously different to each other.

For mains, we just couldn’t go past the enticing fish combinations on offer and chose two types of fish we don’t see that much on menus in Australia- Crispy Black Sea Bass with caramelised cauliflower and a poppyseed, buttermilk vinaigrette and Roasted Hake with avocado, black beans and “cilantro “. The combinations of ingredients with  each of the unique fish flavours was delicious and perfect for lunch.

We finished with the Citrus Pavlova with Satsuma cream and a brilliant blood orange sorbet which was stunning – citrusy, light and refreshing!

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Nougatine’s Citrus Pavlova with blood orange sorbet

Each course featured divinely balanced flavours and textures, featuring the freshest seasonal ingredients that Jean Georges is famed for. Throughout the meal you are aware that this is dining at it’s finest, yet being totally at ease. The lunchtime crowd, a buzzy mix of locals and tourists, adds to the atmosphere as you enjoy views across to Central Park. I think this is a must-visit experience in New York, whether you decide to blow the big bucks at Jean Georges or go for Big Bang for your buck at Nougatine. (Thanks Marie for suggesting we try it out.)

Review: Super Catch in Meatpacker’s District NYC

Catch is one of the super trendy restaurants in Meatpacker’s featuring all-the-rage Asian fusion in a souped up warehouse like space over 3 levels in the Meatpacker’s district in New York City. With a wide ranging menu, and an expectedly seafood focus, menu decision-making is difficult but the over the top pricing for some offerings helps to cut down the options if you’re not straight from Wall Street.

Originally opened by by US Top Chef program winner, Hung Huynh, the menu features Raw Bar with Seafood Towers, rolled, cold and hot selections as well as US “entrees” and extensive sides. Here’s the current Dinner menu

We sampled the Tartare Trio of salmon, hamachi and tuna served with American Caviar and a wasabi creme fraiche, Crispy Prawns with a tangy mayonnaise, Chicken San Choy Bow, Wagyu on a Rock and the Charred Cauliflower. We also had a special on the night a “pizza” with figs, proscuitto, rocket and quail eggs and Parmesan which was super good. (The low key lighting makes it a bit challenging for good blog photos.)

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Tartare trio of salmon, hamachi and tuna with American caviar at Catch NYC

All the food was deliciously fresh with well balanced flavours and very reminiscent of Australian Asian-fusion cooking which we had been missing in our 3 weeks of travel in the US. The atmosphere and supercharged vibe however is definitely 100% NYC!! It is like having a great meal in a nightclub. Afterwards we wandered up to Level 3 rooftop bar for views over the Manhattan skyline. A great place to really feel you are in the Big Apple that’s for sure! Make sure you book.Visit Catch NYC

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Rooftop bar at Catch in NYC

Review: Posh Indian at Bombay Club Washington DC

The Bombay Club is right in the heart of Washington DC’s executive quarter, just a few blocks from the White House. Frequented by American Presidents and Hollywood stars this is not your everyday Indian restaurant. It was rated by GQ India as the third best Indian restaurant in the world. (Read full article http://www.gqindia.com/live-well/food/7-best-indian-restaurants-across-globe/ ).

Intrigued by what we had read and heard about the restaurant we saved it for our last night in DC and we were not disappointed.

From  the plush padded seats, starched linen tablecloths and the tinkling from the pianist in the corner, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a Raj-era exclusive club.

For entree we chose the highly recommended Spicy Duck Kebabs- Minced duck, chilies, ginger, nutmeg and garam masala and the Dum Ka Shrimp marinated in black pepper, saffron, yogurt, cardamom. The kebabs were divine and spicier than we expected which to us bode well that the Bombay Club hasn’t “dumbed” down the spicing for Western palates too much. The prawns were more subtly flavoured and delicious too.

For mains we ordered an “unabashedly Indian curry” – Lamb vindaloo and Bhindi Do Piaza (okra), Dhal Makni, naan, basmati rice and lemon chutney. The lamb vindaloo was redolent of the aged vinegar, onions, chilies, cinnamon and cardamon it is cooked in with a perfect balance of tanginess and spicy warmth. The Dhal Makni is cooked for 16 hours and it tasted smoky and rich, like it had been cooked overnight in the tandoor. The okra is cooked with pickled onions, tomatoes and chilli and was an ideal vegetarian accompaniment to our meal, along with one of the best pickled lemon chutney I have ever tasted. Wish I could get the recipe for that!

Treating ourselves to dessert, we loved the Gulab Jamun served with cardamom gelato and the mango kulfi.

The entire meal was one of the best Indian epicurean experiences we have ever had and I would highly recommend eating at Bombay Club if you live in or visit DC. Here is the link to their website for more pictures and information http://www.bombayclubdc.com

 

 

Soulful style at Marvin in Washington DC

Marvin’s is a very cool bistro, bar and nightclub in Washington’s happening “U street corridor” on 14th Street NW. Established in 2007, the food is inspired by Marvin’s Gaye’s travels to Belgium and southern “soul” food he grew up with in America. The decore is contemporary but comfortable, making you feel instantly at ease. Understandable why it is such a favourite with the locals.

 

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Marvin restaurant inspired by Marvin Gaye

We had come to eat like the locals so started off with Chicken fried oysters and Shrimp ‘n Grits. The oysters were fried in a spicy batter and came with a remoulade, mayonnaise. They were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside making for a delicious contrast. The Shrimp had been cooked in tangy spices and were served with cheesy grits, jus from the shrimps and scattered with toasted almonds. (Grits are small broken corn grains that when are well are creamy almost like polenta.) The flavours from the shrimp enlivened the grits and made the dish extremely more-ish!

For entrees (mains) we chose the Pepper Crusted Hanger steak with green beans, shiitake mushrooms and  bordelaise sauce and Chicken and Waffles which was served with gravy, syrup and collard greens. I never thought I’d ever be caught eating waffles for dinner but I have to say the pairing was divine, especially with the sweetness of the accompanying sauces and the bitterness of the collard greens. The steak was very Belgian French in style, spiced with pepper and cooked perfectly to medium rare as requested.

Once again we had no room for the tempting dessert menu but I took a photo so you can see the delicious choices on offer.

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Dessert Menu at Marvin in Wsahington DC

After dinner we wandered upstairs to catch some tunes on the rooftop deck which was filled with a hipster crowd enjoying the cool sounds from the DJ.

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Excellent evening of food and entertainment. Plan to spend longer than you expect.

Boston Legal Clam Chowder

Monday brought a snow storm to Boston and with it the perfect weather for soups and comfort food. We had enjoyed the milder weather over the weekend, making hay while the sun shined and walking the Freedom Trail learning about Paul Revere’s heroic ride to warn the Patriots of the approaching British troops and all about Boston’s contribution to American Independence.

But by Monday we were ready to hole up and take advantage of the weather to try out Legal Seafood down at the revitalised Seafront district for their renowned Clam Chowder. We had been assured by locals that despite being an ever expanding chain,the quality of food and service had remained and that this was the best spot to sample Boston’s acclaimed seafood.

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Located next to the fishermen’s pier and overlooking the harbour, Legal Seafood at the Seafront certainly puts one in the mood for fine dining, although more casual dining is also offered downstairs. This is by no means a cheap eats restaurant but at the same time prices for food and wine are excellent value for the quality and style.

We chose a Deloach Sonoma Pinot Noir, which little did we know at the time of ordering, was developed especially for Legal Seafood to go with their seafood centric menu.

Dinner started on a high note with the complimentary amuse Bouche sent by the chef.

The Clam Chowder certainly lived up to it’s reputation and was deliciously creamy – you can taste the sea in the freshness of the seafood ingredients. As a starter it is certainly filling but not heavy. Beautiful free breads were served at the beginning.

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For mains we tried halibut (rarely found in Australia), and of course lobster. The halibut was served with couscous,roasted fennel and aioli. And the lobster came with a parsnip puree, steamed kale, and one slow cooked beef brisket rib. Both entrees(mains) demonstrated a sophisticated approach to balancing flavours and tastes that “legitimised” for us Legal Seafood’s word of mouth referrals and food critic approvals.

The dessert menu was very tempting but we couldn’t fit it in so we settled for chocolates instead.

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A must try on you next trip to Boston.

St Patrick’s Day at The Roger and Molly’s Bar NYC

Arrived in New York after 26 hours of travelling from Sydney at 4.30pm on St Patrick’s Day.

We were staying at The Roger, a boutique hotel on the Corner of Madison and East 31st, in the area still known as Nomad(north of Madison park). I remember staying in mid-town years back when I visited New York and it is certainly changing with many more trendy bars and restaurants and a much more vibrant and a far less grungy atmosphere.

The rooms are very spacious by New York standards and ours even had a seperate walk in wardrobe. Anyway, impressed as we were with our digs, we wanted a true New York Irish experience to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. After some quick online research, Adrian suggested Molly’s Bar about 15 minutes walk down in Gramercy, on 287 3rd Avenue just down from East 23rd st.

 

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Queues to get in at Molly’s Bar in New York on St Patrick’s Day

The tiny bar,established in 1960 and known to be New York’s most authentic Irish bar in New York, with sawdust on the floor and a log fire, was packed to the rafters with New Yorkers of Irish descent and every other descent celebrating St Pat’s Day – raucously! As loud as it was, we got there around 8.30pm and managed to avoid any queues and even to get a booth. Somehow  the noise seemed to diminish when we sat down and it was still fine to talk and enjoy our delicious meal of Irish favourites – corned beef served with cabbage, vegetables and mash and of course, Irish Lamb Stew.

We knew we were in the US of A when the gigantic main  courses arrived, but just like the noise, the size of the dishes diminished when we tucked in! Both meals were delicious and served with complimentary traditional Irish Soda Bread. (Excuse the poor quality of the food pics but it was pretty dark in the booth!) Accompanied by Irish Harp Lager and a delicious glass of red wine from Washington State. Prices for meals and drinks are reasonable and tallied up to about $80 including tip for 2 of us, without an entree(appetiser) or dessert, but including more than 1 round of drinks!

Great green atmosphere on St Pats Day but I think it would be just as much, or even more fun, on a normal evening.

 

Lamb curry pot pies

C’mon weekend so I can try out some new recipes like these little pot pies!

add some butter

Lamb curry pot pies 2

After the whirlwind that was the past week, I need major comfort food to indulge in. Enter lamb curry pot pies. They may be small, but they’re packed with meaty curry goodness with a delicious puff pastry pie crust to round it off. Come on weekend … let’s lounge around.

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