All posts tagged: blogging101

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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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. 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 …

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Mild Potato Curry

This mild potato curry is quick and easy to make. Recently on a rainy Sydney day we were in the mood for an Indian breakfast, or more accurately brunch, so I made this accompanied by my Red Lentil Dhal, Easy Wholemeal Roti and Coconut Sambal. The resulting meal took us straight back to the streets of India  where these types of vegetarian combinations are favourites for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This Potato Curry is also a good staple side dish that can be whipped up quickly and is particularly nice with grilled fish. Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes Ingredients: 2 medium size potatoes peeled and cut into smallish cubes 1 onion diced 1 tomato cut into large chunks 8 curry leaves (optional) 2 cloves garlic and same amount of ginger crushed into paste 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds 1 stick cinnamon 1 teaspoon cummin seeds 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder 1 teaspoon turmeric powder 1 teaspoon cummin powder 1 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 cup of water coriander to garnish Method Boil potatoes first …

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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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Review: New Year’s Foodie Nirvana at Mozaic Restaurant Ubud, Bali

Our special treat for New Year’s Eve 2015 was to book in to the acclaimed, award-winning Moziac Restaurant in Ubud for their special seven course degustation. Chef Chris Salans opened Mozaic in 2001 bringing together the indigenous flavours of Indonesian herbs, spices and vegetables with first class imported ingredients such as wagyu beef, black truffles, foie gras all prepared with sophisticated French and European cooking techniques. The resulting menus and dishes have earned Chris Salans and his team a list of awards as long as your arm, not to mention, calls for a Michelin Star from Mozaic’s international diners. As you can imagine, our expectations were set very high as we stepped through the beautiful wooden doors into the Mozaic Lounge for a pre-dinner aperitif and complimentary appetiser. We were brought an appetiser of a light as air tiny profiterole filled with a luscious savoury, truffle infused custard. Our host explained the wine pairing menu with dinner which we decided to go with, and we were very well rewarded , as each of the wines …

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Review: Smorgasbord of Indonesian specialities at Hujan Locale

Hujan  Locale in Ubud is the latest offering in Australian chef and entrepreneur Will Meryck’s “chain” of contemporary Asian restaurants in Bali, including Sarong and Mama San in Seminyak. Tucked away in Jalan Sri Wedari, off the main street – Jalan Raya Ubud, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a Singapore ore Vietnam colonial interior, featuring a mix of wood, bamboo, tiles and even a chandelier. The warm, inviting interior is filled with diners the night we visit. Bookings are highly advisable. We asked for a table upstairs which gets the through breeze and views over the street to one side and a Balinese family compound on the other. The menu features a diversity of dishes inspired by the various regions of the Indonesian archipelago with most ingredients supplied by local farmers. It is a smorgasbord of Indonesian delights and uncompromising in it’s inclusion of chilli and spices, so would not recommend if you don’t like spicy food. We choose the Pig Ear’s served with sambal spiced aioli and a crackling and the Gorengan or “fried platter” …

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2015 in review

Here’s the completed “Year in Review” post! Happy New Year!! As we start the new year I thought I’d reflect on the first six months of my Free Spirit Food blog. It’s certainly been very interesting starting this blogging journey and I was amazed to receive my “annual report” from WordPress telling me that there had been almost 5,000 views since June 2015 – apparently almost the equivalent of four full New York subway trains! My aim when I started was to get to 100 followers by the end of the year and as we enter the new year I would like to say thank you to the 105 people who find my recipes and reviews of interest. Some of you are friends and family, but the majority of you are from around Australia and the world with very informative, interesting and beautiful blogs of your own. I wanted to say a special thank you to my most loyal supporters and give their great blogs a plug: From the family table What’s Bec Cooking My little …

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Bali Review: A real Babi Guling experience at Warung Ibu Suna, Kedewatan

Having set out at 7.30am to do the Campuhan Ridge walk in Ubud before the sun got too hot, we decided we would have breakfast/brunch on the way back to Penestanan. The walk starts from stairs near the Campuhan Bridge that take you down to the river bed where you negotiate crossing over rocks to more stairs that lead up to the impressive temple on the other side, and the actual start of the “trek” up the ridge. We were lucky to have the aid of a makeshift bamboo “bridge” to get us across. The walk itself up the ridge affords stunning views across valleys on both sides. After about 3km of rolling hill climbs, you reach the village of Tegallalang with it’s rice fields and then walk another 4kms or so through the village of Kedawatan towards Jalan Sangiangan, the main route into Ubud. This stretch involves very steep hill walks between Tegallalang and Kedwatan and we certainly worked up a sweat and an appetite! Just as we leaving Kedawatan heading towards Ubud, we …

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Javanese dining in Ubud – Warung Mendez Penestanan

After a wonderful Christmas eating lots of delicious traditional English and Australian food, we are now in Bali for a fortnight of feasting and relaxation up in the hills of Ubud. There won’t be too much cooking but certainly a lot of eating planned. We have been regulars to Bali over the last ten years and can’t help but feel instantly relaxed when we get here through the combination of the warm Balinese hospitality, heat of the tropical sun and diversity and quality of the food. This visit we are staying in the village of Penestanan on the edge of the rice fields, once quite a sleepy part of Ubud but which has now been populated with great cafes and restaurants, spas and villas. We started our first day here lazing by our pool before choosing to lunch at Warung Mendez, a restaurant specialising in Javanese cuisine. From tempting appetisers and soups to specials such as slow cooked goat’s leg and Tempe fried in a special spring onion batter, deciding on what to eat is …

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Pan-fried Scallops on pea purée with crispy proscuitto

Red, white and green. These sweet scallops just pan-fried with a golden brown crust on the bright green pea purée topped with salty, red crispy proscuitto bits are a great Christmas starter or entree. The pea purée can be made ahead of time so it’s easy to assemble just before serving. Prep time: 30 minutes cooking time: 20 minutes Ingredients: Pea purée 2 small eschallots finely sliced 2 cloves of garlic finely sliced 2 cups frozen peas defrosted 1/2 cup chicken stock 50g butter or 2 tablespoons olive oil Salt and finely crushed black pepper Scallops 16-24 scallops (4-6 per person) Olive oil spray Proscuitto 4-6 slices very thin slices of proscuitto Method Pea purée Heat butter or oil over medium heat Add eschallots and garlic and sauté gently until soft and transparent Add defrosted peas and chicken stock, bring to gentle simmer Cook for maximum 5-7 minutes until peas are tender but still bright green Add salt and pepper to taste Process with stick blender or in food processor until purée forms Pass through …

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Snapper in Indian “Crazy Water” Broth

This dish is based on the Italian inspired recipes by Marcella Hazan and Neil Perry for “fish in crazy water”. Having previously made and enjoyed Neil Perry’s recipe, I had found the original light broth reminiscent of the texture of the South Indian soup known as Rasam that often accompanies meals. This version is of my own creation and includes the distinct aniseed flavour of star anise and the fruity sweet-sour flavour of tamarind. You can also easily play around with the combination of herbs and spices to suit your palette. This dish is perfect to serve with blanched spinach for a light and healthy dinner. Prep time: 15 minutes  Cooking time: 55 minutes Ingredients: 2 large snapper fillets with skin on 3 large, very ripe tomatoes 3 cloves garlic 3 red chillies 1/2 tspn sea salt small handful coriander leaves small handful mint leaves 1.5 tsp tamarind concentrate or 2 tspns tamarind juice 1/2 tsp turmeric 2 star anise 60ml olive oil 900ml water Method Place tomatoes in bowl of boiling water, then peel …

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Spice Temple Cooking Class – Sydney Seafood School

On a cold and drizzly Monday night in Sydney I ventured down to the Sydney Fish Markets for a cooking class at their Seafood Cooking School. They offer a big variety of courses often featuring well known Chefs and I’d booked in to the class by Head Chef Andy Evans from the Neil Perry restaurant, Spice Temple. Both Andy Evans and Neil Perry have travelled extensively in regional China, and Spice Temple features their especially created recipes featuring regional Chinese cooking with a  spicy kick! The amphitheatre at the Seafood School was full of enthusiastic foodies and the class started with Andy outlining the order of proceedings and the menu. We were each given a booklet with the 3 recipes we would be making: Tuna with Blackened Chilli Dressing, Prawn and Peanut Relish and Spanner Crab Omelette with Oyster Sauce. The high tech set-up in the amphitheatre which has video screens displaying what is happening on the kitchen bench and stove makes it easy to watch the cooking demonstrations. It’s almost like watching a cooking …

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Lamb and spinach curry with lime

This is my version of lamb and spinach curry which is fresh and zesty through the addition of mint, coriander and lime to the traditional lamb and spinach combination. It goes really well served with rice or naan/flatbreads, and a side salad of tomato and cucumber. Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 50 minutes Ingredients: 750g diced lamb 1 bunch fresh English spinach, cleaned, washed and chopped finely 250g packet of frozen spinach defrosted 1/2 bunch mint – leaves only 1/2 bunch coriander – chopped 2 tablespoons ginger and garlic crushed paste 1/2 lime cut into thirds, other half reserved 2-3 red chillies, left whole 1 onion finely diced 1.5 tomato chopped 1 tspn salt 1 tspn cummin powder 1/2 tspn chilli powder 1/2 tspn turmeric 2 pieces cinnamon 4 cardamom pods 1 tspn cummin seeds Handful curry leaves 3 tbspns vegetable oil Method Heat oil in large heavy based casserole pot Add cinnamon, cummin seeds, curry leaves and cardamom pods and cook until fragrant, taking care not to burn the spices Add onions and …

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Thai flavoured chicken and vegetable noodle soup

I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather with the flu and the only thing I felt like eating was a light but flavoursome chicken soup. This version of chicken soup combines Thai flavours like galangal and lemongrass with fresh green vegetables and poached chicken and is full of goodness but omits the traditional coconut milk which often features in Thai chicken soups like Tom Ka Ghai. Prep time: 5 minutes  Cooking time: 1 hour Ingredients Poached chicken and stock 4 thigh chicken fillets on the bone, skin and fat removed 1 carrot peeled and chopped in large pieces 4 celery stalks chopped in large pieces Large knob of fresh galangal peeled and chopped Large knob of fresh ginger peeled and chopped 1 stalk lemongrass bruised then chopped roughly 4 cloves garlic 4 stalks spring onions chopped roughly 1 red chilli chopped 2.5-3 litres water Soup 1/2 brown onion sliced finely 2 handfuls of honeysnap peas 5 button mushrooms sliced thickly 1 stalk bok choy finely chopped 4 cloves of boiled garlic retained from the stock …

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Roasted eggplant with cummin and yoghurt

This is a delicious accompaniment served with Indian curries but just as good with roast meats like the Pulled pork or served as a dip. Roasting the eggplant first gives it a lovely texture and a smoky flavour and the cummin and mustard seeds add spice and crunch. Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time:60 minutes Ingredients 1 large eggplant 1/2 brown onion thinly sliced 1 clove garlic minced 1/2 teaspoon cummin powder 1 teaspoon cummin seeds 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds 1/2 cup plain yoghurt Handful curry leaves(optional) 1.5 tablespoons olive oil Salt to taste Method Heat oven to 180 degrees celcius Prick eggplant deeply in a few spots on each side with a fork or small knife to allow steam to escape. (This is important to avoid eggplant explosion in oven!) Roast eggplant for 45-50 minutes, rotating 3 or 4 times to allow for even cooking. Don’t worry if skin blackens or burns. Remove eggplant from oven and place immediately in a plastic bag and tie/seal. Leave for 5-10 minutes. The steam created will …

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Spicy shredded chicken salad

This is a light, healthy salad that is spiced up with some fresh chillies and chilli oil. Use the leftover herbs and vegetables in your fridge for the poaching to add flavour to the chicken. The leftover Singapore style poached chicken is perfect to use for this salad. Prep time: 5 minutes  Cooking time: 20 minutes Ingredients 2 chicken thigh fillets, fat removed 1/2 brown onion 1/2 carrot leftover aromatics e.g fennel pieces, celery, coriander stalks and/or ginger 4-5 cups water 3 tablespoons Mint leaves and coriander chopped 2 green chillies finely chopped 2 cups watercress leaves salt and pepper 2-3 teaspoons Asian Chilli oil 1/2 a fresh lime Method Bring water to boil with aromatics Add chicken and reduce heat to medium to allow chicken to poach for 20 minutes Meanwhile chop mint leaves, coriander and chillies Shred chicken with 2 forks Add still warm chicken to watercress, mint, coriander and chilli. Add 2 tablespoons of poaching liquid and mix through Season well with pepper and salt to taste Drizzle with chilli oil and a squeeze …

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Singapore-style Poached Chicken and Chicken Rice

This recipe is inspired by the delicious chicken rice we had at Loy Kee Restaurant in Singapore recently. It seemed to me that it couldn’t be that difficult to replicate the tender and delicious poached chicken at home so I did a bit of reading and compared a number of recipes to come up with this easy to make version. Whist there are few different components involved if you want to have an authentic chicken rice meal with sauces and bok choy, none of it is difficult or complicated. I also found that the leftover chicken was delicious for a shredded spicy chicken salad like the one we made at Spirit House Cooking School when we visited Yandina, Queensland about  a year ago. You can find my version here Simple shredded chicken salad In fact, I would now use this method to make delicious poached chicken just on it’s own to use in chicken salads and/or sandwiches. You could vary the poaching ingredients, if you didn’t want the Asian ginger, garlic and spring onion flavour, but …

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