Counting ourselves lucky: lunch at #Abacus #Prahan #melbourne

First plane trip in more than 12 months today, travelling from Sydney to Melbourne. Masked up all the way but that was a minor inconvenience considering how lucky we are to be able to travel to (most places) within Australia (at the moment).

Got a warm welcome at the Como MGallery Hotel #comomgallery before heading down Chapel St until we spotted Abacus and headed in for lunch. Had read about the all day dining in #broadsheet and the food certainly rates a mention. Here’s a link to their lengthier review https://www.broadsheet.com.au/melbourne/south-yarra/cafes/abacus

The Ballarat breakfast featuring Toulouse sausage and pig cheeks from a special butcher in Ballarat was accompanied by a beautifully poached egg.

All day brunch, as well as a short but good main section featuring octopus, fish of the day and steak. Exactly the type of good cafe lunch we were seeking.

Steak with chimchurri
Prahan mural cnr Chapel amd Elizabeth St’s

With cool vibes, lots of indoor greenery and large windows opening out onto the Chapel st sights and sounds(bit more subdued than normal but still buzzy) Abacus is a great stop during Prahan shopping or as a destination cafe!

Abacus
Abacus greenery

#Mustard #parmesan and #rosemary encrusted rack of #lamb

This was a delicious quick dinner tonight. This like a crumbed roast with no carbs. The addition of a bit of beaten egg to the coating mixture makes sure the lamb has a lovely parmesan, mustard and rosemary “crust.” Quick and easy dinner any night of the week or looks impressive for dinner part.Great with a nice salad or add roast potato or chips if you like.

Prep time: 10 minutes cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 rack of lamb (5-6 cutlets)
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon or mild English mustard
  • Handful of fresh Rosemary leaves stripped from stem
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 garlic clove crushed or minced
  • Salt and black pepper

Method:

1. Heat oven to 200 degrees celcius

2. Heat non-stick saucepan on stovetop, sprinkle rack of lamb with salt and crushed black pepper and drizzle with olive oil

3. Brown lamb on all sides in pan, until nice brown colour achieved

4. Line baking pan with baking paper.

5. Place lamb rack on baking pan.

6. Mix mustard, rosemary leaves and 4 tablespoons of the beaten egg.

7. Smear mustard mixture thickly on all exposed part of the lamb rack.

8 sprinkle with half the parmesan.

9. Cook in oven for 20 minutes.

10.remove from oven, a sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan, then return to the oven for another 5-8 minutes.

11. Check that meat is done to your liking with a meat thermometer 71 degrees for medium rare is how we like it.

12. Remove lamb from oven, allow to rest for at least 5 minutes.

13. Serve with salad and roast potatoes or chips.

Free-spirited #Profiteroles

Made these a few weeks ago for a lunch party….reminded me how it actually is easy to make Choux pastry with only a bit of attention to quantities. Going to now think about making some new savoury and sweet recipes with it. Stay tuned!

Free-spirited Profiteroles!

Pork with shredded kale and Fenugreek leaves(#methi) vindaloo

Made one of our favourite pork curries Pork VIndaloo, added 2 handfuls of shredded kale, as well as about 300g of frozen fenugreek leaves (bought at an Indian grocery store) ….right at the end to simmer with pork for last 10 minutes or so, then garnished with chopped coriander.

Pork Vindaloo with Fenugreek seeds and leaves

Whilst the bitter leaves of fenugreek are acclaimed by many Indians as an antioxidant with excellent healing powers for every thing from liver dis disfunction, to lowering cholesterol, I just love the bittery, earthy flavours that fenugreek leaves bring to spaces and Dhals. Find it, buy it and try it out?

Adding in shredded Kale to add more texture to the dish.

Eggplant pieces stuffed with prawn and Zucchini

Eggplant stuffed with prawn and zucchini filling

Traditionally a dim sum/yum cha dish, it is also a Asian delicious starter or accompaniment.

I had read a few different recipes and methods and was initially suspicious about the stuffing coming out whilst the eggplant cooks, but it turned out fine.

The trick is to make sure you use big purple eggplants and cut generous thick slices to begin with so your pockets have generous “side” flaps for the prawn mixture to sit within.

Prep time: 10 minutes cooking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large thick eggplant about 20-25cm long or 2 smaller ones
  • 3-4 large green prawns shelled and deveined
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 Spring onions chopped – about 3/4 cup
  • 1 teaspoon crushed ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour or potato flour
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

Method:

1. Chop prawns, Zucchini, and 2 garlic cloves and put into food processor.

2. Add ginger, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon only of oyster sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, white pepper, 1 teaspoon sugar.

3. Process until a smoothish paste forms.

4. Put paste into a mixing bowl, add 1/2 spring onions chopped, cornflour and mix.

5. Top and tail eggplant, then cut into approximately 5cm pieces. Then cut a deep slit halfway through each piece WITHOUT slicing to the bottom. You should have 4-5

6. Fill each of the pieces generously with the prawn stuffing. Don’t worry too much if there is a bit of “overhang”!

7. Heat the vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon sesame oil in heavy based pan, then place eggplant pockets in pan and fry over medium heat until both sides are golden brown.

8. Add half a cup of water into the pan and cover with lid so the whole thing can steam, turn carefully and repeat with another half cup steaming until prawn mixture is cooked puffy and a pale pinky yellow.

9. Place eggplant on platter, reserving any liquid in pan,and keep warm in low oven whilst you make the sauce.

10. Add 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, 1 clove finely chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil to pan, bring to a simmer allowing to slightly thicken. Add rest of chopped spring onion, then pour over eggplant and serve.

Mixed #Seafood #Curry #Durbanstyle

I looked everywhere on the internet for mixed seafood curry recipe but could not find one. So I just made up a version with a few ideas I saw along the way and the type of flavours I was in the mood for!

We rarely eat crab curry because it’s too messy and sometimes not substantial enough on its own because it’s all shell and gravy? You know what I mean? But we do love the flavours. This curry is the best of a “number of worlds” as the prawns, scallop and squid are easy to eat, are delicious and much more substantial….and really benefit from the crab flavoured sauce that is created.

We ate the prawns, squid and scallops first and then the the crab with our hands and. Finger bowl at the end!

The addition of tamarind pulp and classic South Indian spices adds the zingy tartness melding together into a really delicious curry that is. I think this dish is about to be known as Amazing Seafood and bound to be a favourite in our house.

If you want to make this without the crab, best to put shellfish first and add after quicker cooking fish etc later. Good luck ..easy to experiment and it will still be delicious!

Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 25 minutes

Perfect for dinner for 2 with salad.

  • Ingredients
  • 1 blue swimmer crab cleaned and cut into pieces, legs pulled off
  • 6-8 green prawns shelled and deveined
  • 8-10 scallops
  • 3 baby squid/calamari
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 2 pieces cinammon bark/ half a quill
  • 1/2 teaspoon cummin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Large handful of fresh curry leaves (or 2 bay leaves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon cummin powder
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • Equal amount of fresh ginger to garlic
  • 1-2 red chillies
  • 1,5 teaspoons tamarind puree
  • 1-1.5cups water
  • Salt
  • 3tablespoons Vegetable oil
  • Coriander to garnish

Method:

1. Clean crab and cut into pieces, peel and devein prawns.

2. Cuts a baby squid into strips, place in bowl with 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon of cumin powder, 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder and 1/2 tablespoon oil, mix and leave to marinate as you prepare other ingredients.

3. Crush ginger, garlic and red chillies into a paste.

4. Peel onion and dice finely. Dice tomatoes.

5. Heat oil in heavy based pan (use a pan or pot with a lid) over medium heat, Add cinnamon bark, 2/3 of the curry leaves, cummin seeds and fennel seeds and heat gently until fragrant.

6. Add onions and cook slowly until translucent.

7.Add 3/4 teaspoon each of cummin powder, turmeric and chilli powder and mix through onions to heat through, then add fenugreek seeds if using, add in tomatoes and 1 teaspoon salt.

8. Cook tomatoes for about 5 minutes until they begin to break down, add 1/4 cup of water and tamarind purée. Bring mixture back to simmer.

9. Add the crab to the tomato mixture and coat the crab in the sauce. Place lid on the pot and allow crabs to simmer for 10 minutes or so, add another 1/4 cup of water to stop mixture sticking.

10. Heat grill in oven, place squid on a oven tray covered in baking paper and grill squid for 5-8 minutes, turning over once until browned and cooked. Remove from oven and reserve.

11. Add prawns to carb mixture, checking to make sure sauce isn’t sticking but not adding too much more water unless needed. Allow prawns to cook for about 3 minutes, then add scallops and allow to simmer for another 3-4 minutes. The sauce should be saucy but not too watery. Add another 1/4-1/2 cup water if needed though. Taste to see if additional salt needed.

12. Scatter over squid and put lid back on for a minute or two to allow squid to just heat up.s

13. Garnish curry with another hand of fresh curry leaves , chopped coriander. Serve with rice, roti and salad.

Mixed seafood curry #durbanstyle