All posts filed under: blogging 101

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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 …

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Thai Red Roast Pork Noodle Soup

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 …

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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 …

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Homestyle osso bucco with gremolata and creamy mashed potatoes

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 …

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Nougatine's Citrus Pavlova with blood orange sorbet

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 …

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Catch restaurant NYC

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 …

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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 …

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Shrimp and cheesy grits with jus

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.   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 …

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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.   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 …

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Baked fish with spicy Tahini and onion sauce

Baked Fish with spicy Tahini and onion sauce

This is my take on a traditional Lebanese sauce to go with baked fish. It’s simple to make and the cholesterol free Tahini(sesame paste) sauce I use makes it a much healthier option than cream. The lemony, garlic flavours combine with the nutty flavour of the Tahini and sweet, slightly caramelised onion and spicy chilli into a delicious creamy topping to go with the baked fish. We had it here with a mixed salad including  artichokes which complimented the middle Eastern flavours well. Prep time:  5 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes Ingredients: 500g firm fish fillets like  flathead or snapper 1 lemon finely sliced into rings 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice 1/3 cup Tahini sauce 3 tablespoons olive oil 3 cloves garlic crushed 1 medium onion thinly sliced in half moons 1 large red chilli finely chopped 1/3 cup cold water 1/ 2 teaspoon cummin powder 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (optional) 1/2 teaspoon salt fresh ground black pepper 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or coriander Method: Heat oven to 200 degrees celcius (400 Farenheit) Line an …

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Steamed eggplant with ginger

Steamed Eggplant with ginger

This is one of the easiest and healthiest ways to enjoy eggplant. You don’t often see recipes for steaming eggplant but I can attest to this recipe, especially if made with smaller eggplants such as “graffiti” striped eggplants or the thin Japanese eggplants. Prep time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 30-40 minutes Ingredients: 2-3 small eggplants small knob of ginger thinly sliced 1 clove of garlic crushed with half a red chillI 2 teaspoons salt Method: Cut eggplant into medium size piece and immediately add salt and place in a colander or strainer over the sink for 15 minutes Meanwhile slice ginger finely, seperately crush garlic and chilli Remove eggplant from colander shaking off excess moisture and place in steaming basket, gently rub some of the garlic and chilli on each pice of eggplant using a teaspoon, then scatter over ginger. steam for 30-40 minutes or until eggplant is tender to your liking  

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Indian brunch with potato curry, dhal, roti and coconut sambal

Quick Coconut Sambal

This sambal is a delicious spicy, sweet accompaniment to all sorts of Indian meals. Traditionally made with freshly grated coconut, I just use desiccated coconut which I first “rehydrate” a bit by soaking in coconut milk(from a can). If you are a coconut fan, then you will find this pretty more-ish. Very nice as a side as part of an Indian brunch with Mild Potato Curry, Red Lentil Dhal and  Wholemeal Roti Prep time: 30 minutes  No Cooking required Ingredients: 1.5 cups desiccated coconut 1 cup coconut milk for soaking 1 green chilli chopped 1 small eschallot or spring onion chopped 1/2 a finger length of ginger chopped 1/2 teaspoon salt Method Soak desiccated coconut in coconut milk for 25 minutes or so Drain coconut milk from desiccated coconut, pressing down well, reserve coconut milk Put rest of ingredients into a food processor or spice grinder and blend to a coarse paste, add a teaspoon of the coconut milk to loosen slightly and whizz briefly. Serve

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n with salted black bean sauce

Steamed Pumpkin with salted black bean sauce

This dish is inspired by Australian celebrity chef Neil Perry’s Spice Temple cookbook which features the recipes from his well known Sydney restaurant. Spice Temple features spicy regional Chinese cooking inspired by Neil Perry’s travels and his love of Chinese food. The combination of the sweet steamed pumpkin with the salty black bean sauce and slight spiciness added by the dried chillies makes for a great vegetarian side dish. It’s a perfect accompaniment to pork, like the Crispy Asian Pork Belly Salad, or would be nice with grilled lamb cutlets too. The Chinese ingredients in this recipe are worth adding to your pantry if you don’t already have them as they are commonly used in other Chinese dishes, especially Sichuan dishes. The black beans used here are not to be confused with normal canned black beans which are not fermented. Rather theses are salted and fermented black beans that form the basis of the salty seasoning used in Chinese dishes such as “beef in black bean sauce”. Don’t use readymade black bean sauce which is …

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Portuguese pork and clam stew with roasted capsicum sauce

Portuguese pork and clam stew with roasted capsicum sauce

We used to have this dish at the Petersham Portuguese Chicken Shop and Restaurant in Sydney before it burnt down in a terrible fire. I have never made it at home but thought I’d try it out for something a bit different. I did a bit of research on the Internet and checked a variety of recipes, some with and without the capsicum paste, before deciding on this version. The stew comes from the Alentejan region of Portugal and is usually served with fried potatoes but can be served with crusty bread or plain rice. Marinating the pork in the milk and wine overnight tenderises the pork and gives it a lovely almost silky texture when cooked. The roasted capsicum paste can be made the day before as well if you want and adds a sweetness and a subtle spiciness that compliments the natural saltiness of the clams. The clams can be replaced by cockles but purging them by soaking in water is important to remove any grit. So, please note the time required for marinating …

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Okra, corn and tomato fry

Okra, corn and tomato fry

If you don’t like or haven’t tried okra because of it’s reputation for being slimy, then this recipe will surprise. Dry frying the sliced okra before sautéeing  with tomato, onion, garlic and corn removes the slime and produces a tasty vegetarian side dish that is healthy and a delicious side dish served with green salad leaves and grilled pork or fish. Okra is full of fibre, antioxidants and vitamin K. Prep time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 2o minutes Ingredients: 1 onion thinly sliced 1 large tomato chopped 2 cloves of garlic crushed 10-12 medium size okra , washed, dried, stalk cut off and sliced lengthwise in half 200g of canned  corn kernels 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or Cajun spice 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves stripped from stalk salt and pepper to taste 2 tablespoons vegetable oil finely chopped parsley to garnish Optional: baby spinach leaves or lettuce to serve with Method Heat non-stick fry pan over a high heat, add okra cut side down until it browns and the sticky gel emitted dries up. Cook on …

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Homemade Borlotti baked beans

Homemade Borlotti Baked Beans

My six year old neighbour Martin is coming over for lunch today. A few months ago Martin popped in to say hi and I had just taken my homemade baked beans out of the oven. Martin was astounded to find out that baked beans don’t just come out of a can. He was even more intrigued when I showed him the actual raw beans. “They are like nuts”, he said. I gave Martin a small taste of the freshly cooked beans and he loved them. Since then whenever I see him he talks about the baked beans,so I thought it only appropriate that I should make a batch for lunch. Whilst they take time to make, due to having to soak the beans, then twice cook them, the results are so much better than using beans out of a can and the cooking process gives you the opportunity to use herbs and spices to your taste in the sauce. I use Borlotti beans for this recipe, but you can also use white beans or cannellini …

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"Amazing" chicken Marylands with tomato, thyme, garlic and eschallots

Amazing Chicken Maryland with tomato, thyme, garlic, and eschallots

The combination of these classic ingredients cooked slowly in the oven creates a succulent chicken dish that is healthy and full of flavour. Of course, I can’t resist adding some chilli for a bit of a kick but it is just as lovely without. You can also add large cubes of potato which absorb the juices as they cook. (You might need to add a bit more stock during the cooking if you use potatoes.) Served with a simple green salad and some crunchy bread to mop up the juices, “amazing chicken”, as our family calls it, is a great staple for weeknight dinners or as a main dish for casual lunches. Preparation time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 1hr-1.5hrs Ingredients: 4 chicken marylands or 6 chicken thigh fillets 6 cloves of garlic 1 large tomato cut in large chunks 2 red chillies sliced in half(optional) 8 eschallots Half a bunch of thyme, leaves stripped off stalks Salt and crushed black pepper 1/2 cup chicken stock or water 1/2 cup dry white wine 3-4 tablespoons Olive …

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Salmon En Croute with fennel, chilli and dill butter

Salmon En Croute with fennel, dill and chilli butter

This recipe is inspired by Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver who both have very different versions of the classic Salmon en Croute. According to my google search the term “en Croute” refers to food cooked in pastry in the oven, most commonly salmon or beef. For the Salmon En Croute, Rick Stein in his recipe book Seafood Cookbook uses a butter with currants and mace spiced butter filling, whereas Jamie Oliver uses a spinach and watercress creme fraiche filling. As I decided to make this after I had already done the grocery shopping, I thought I’d try a filling with ingredients I had which I knew would go well with salmon. The resulting pastry parcel with a homemade fennel, dill and chilli butter was absolutely delicious seved with a homemade kale,carrot and red cabbage coleslaw with avocado and tomatoes. It was easy to make using store bought frozen pastry and you could just experiment with the type of flavoured butter filling you’d like. I would recommend using some substantial ingredients, like the thin fennel slices I …

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Fish Briyani with tomato chutney and turmeric rice

Fish Briyani with Tomato Chutney & Turmeric Rice

This Fish Briyani is based on a recipe from my Aunty Vimala who inspired my interest in cooking when I was young. I can still vividly recall the enticing smells of spices cooking and the delicious flavour combinations that came from her kitchen. I wrote this recipe down, taking notes as she made it, when I last visited South Africa in 1997. The spicy tomato chutney, fresh herbs, sweet caramelised onions and lightly fried fish combine to create a more-ish, layered fish dish that is delicious on its own or with youghurt, mango or mint chutney and pickles to the side. This is a lovely dish to serve as part of a buffet lunch or dinner as it is actually nicer warm, rather than piping hot, and even better the next day. Don’t put off by the number of steps and spices, it really is a matter of making each of the components seperately and then combining into the completed layered dish. Once you’ve done the prep it’s just a matter of putting it in …

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Crispy Pork Belly, turmeric dressing, cauliflower and dukkah spice

14 Top Ubud Restaurants & Warungs

We’ve just arrived home in Sydney from Ubud after a wonderful 2 weeks there. I thought I’d share our favourite restaurants from this trip, including some old favourites and new finds while it was all fresh in my mind. When we travel we like eating like the locals do, whilst also trying out the gastronomical stars. This trip to Ubud we did just that, eating at some great local warungs and places like Mozaic, Hujane Local and Spice Gastrocafe. We also tried on this trip to go to a few places that are off the beaten track of the main Ubud streets, so this is quite an eclectic mix! Here’s an overview of  our favourite places for breakfast, lunch and dinner: Melting Wok Our absolute favourite place for dinner. There is also always a warm welcome from owner Geraldine and the team at Melting Wok who excel at great service and being hospitable. Geraldine is French and her husband Phillipe is Laotian and these cultural influences are evident in the  delicious main courses and desserts. …

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