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

 

 

Javanese dining in Ubud – Warung Mendez Penestanan

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Display of spices at Warung Mendez

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 not an easy task so we immediately ordered Bintang beer to cool us down as we made the tough choices.

Adrian often talks about Rawon soup which he had previously enjoyed in Jakarta. The dark almost black, beef soup is made that colour and given it’s unique earthy flavour from the use of the kelucak seed. It is traditionally served with steamed rice and chilli sambal, which is known as Nasi Rawon. At Warung Mendez, we ordered it just as a soup to shar alongside our individual mains of Nasi Goreng and Rica Rica Mackerel.

Rawon black beef soup at Warung Mendez
Rawon black beef soup at Warung Mendez

Whilst the Rawon soup was delicious, it felt like it had been “toned down” to suit the largely tourist palate of the diners that frequent the restaurant. However the nutty taste of the ground kelucak seeds did shine through and with the addition of some of the tasty homemade chilli sambal we had certainly would get Warung Mendez at least 3.5 stars for their version.

Of course it is difficult to pass by a Nasi Goreng or the Balinese version known as Nasi Campur when in Bali. The Warung Mendez version comes with the traditional fried rice, freshly bed chicken satays, pickled carrot, crispy shredded cabbage, a perfectly fried egg and prawn crackers. Adrian’s verdict is that it was “very nice”. We could see, smell and hear the rice being wok tossed and the stays being barbecued!

My Rica Rica Mackerel was not quite as I expected having had the more “tomatoey” Chicken Rica-Rica before. The Warung Mendez Mackerel version omits the tomatoes but features delicious grilled and then shredded fish mixed with the spicy chilli and shallot Rica Rica spice paste. The inclusion of small pieces of tangy Balines lime and the accompaniments of the fern and coconut salad and turmeric rice made for a light and tasty lunch dish.

Rica Rica mackerel at Warung Mendez
Rica Rica mackerel at Warung Mendez

All in all we would recommend Warung Mendez if you’d like to get an authentic taste of Javanese food in Ubud at an extremely good price. Our lunch cost us less than AUD$20. We will definitely be returning for dinner to try the goat’s leg and tempeh, and some desserts.

Christmas Turkey Stuffing

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 the oven at the same time as it goes pretty quickly.

Prep time: 15 minutes  Cooking time: depends on what you are stuffing but at least 1 hour in the oven.

Ingredients:
4 carrots grated
2 brown onions finely diced
4 cloves of garlic crushed to a paste
200g chicken livers with skin and sinew removed and very finely chopped, almost minced
1.5-2 cups white breadcrumbs freshly torn in little chunks from 1/2 a baguette, can include crusts
100g butter
1/2 bunch of thyme leaves stripped from stalk
2 sprigs of sage finely chopped
salt to taste
1.5-2 teaspoons white pepper

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Finely chopped liver

 

Method:

Melt butter in non-stick frying pan over medium heat
Add onions and cook slowly until transparent
Add garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes
Add chicken livers and cook slowly until browned and colour changes

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Sauté chicken livers over medium heat until colour changes

Add carrots, thyme and sage and pepper and cook until carrots are softened
Remove from heat and put into a bowl, then add breadcrumbs and salt to taste, mix well so the bread absorbs the juices and butterCool thoroughly before stuffing bird
Put extra stuffing in a ovenproof dish and bake alongside the roast

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Hunters style Indian roast leg of lamb

Indian Hunters style Roast Leg of Lamb

This is my version of the traditional Jungli Maas – the roast meat cooked by hunters using game. The original version of this recipe does not include ginger, garlic or curry leaves but I’ve adjusted the recipe to add further depth to the flavours. Delicious with a cooling cucumber and tomato kachumber salad or a green salad, and roast potatoes – even better as leftovers the next day. Don’t be scared off by the number of chillies they provide flavour rather than too much heat unless of course you decide to eat them which I wouldn’t advise for any other than those with serious chilli tolerance. The juices left in the pan are rich, spicy and delicious in moderation. Ghee is essential.

Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 2.5-3 hours
Ingredients:

1 2-2.5 kg leg of lamb, with bone in, that will fit in your largest casserole dish with a lid or get your butcher to cut in half
35 dried red chillies, preferably Kashmiri
200g ghee
Handful of curry leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons ginger and garlic crushed into a paste
1 tsp salt
250ml hot chicken stock
Coriander or parsley for garnish

Method
Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees celcius
Remove seeds from 25 of the chillies, slicing them in half (wear gloves or ensure you wash your hands well after)
Make deep incisions with a sharp knife
Rub lamb well with the ginger and garlic paste, massaging the paste into the incisions (those gloves are probably advisable at this point too)

Put the ghee in the casserole dish and melt over medium heat

Add the cinnamon and curry leaves to flavour ghee
Add the lamb and brown all over
Add chillies and salt to the pot, then carefully add hot stock as the mixture might spit when adding to ghee
Bring to simmer, cover with the lid and put carefully into oven
Cook for 2-5-3 hours until lamb is falling off the bone

Hunters style Indian roast leg of lamb
Hunter style Indian roast leg of lamb

You will need to baste the lamb every half an hour and add more boiling water if the mixture is getting too dry
Rest the lamb for 15-20 minutes
Pull the lamb off the bone and serve with juices spooned over the top
Garnish with coriander or parsley

 

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 off skin, remove seeds and chop

 Soaking tomatoes in hot water makes it easier to peel the skin off
Soaking tomatoes in hot water makes it easier to peel the skin off

Finely chop coriander and mint (save half for garnish)
Finely slice garlic cloves

Sliced garlic, coriander and mint for crazy water
Sliced garlic, coriander and mint for crazy water

Deseed chillies and dice finely
Put all ingredients, except the fish fillets, into large heavy based saucepan and bring to a boil.

All the ingredients except the fish go into making the crazy water
All the ingredients except the fish go into making the crazy water

Lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes with lid on
Remove lid, return mixture to a boil and reduce sauce to half again, but ensuring some of the light broth remains
Add snapper fillets skin side down for 2 minutes, simmering over medium heat
Carefully turn fillets over and cook for a further 5-8 minutes until fish is just cooked through
Serve with finely chopped and blanched spinach or bok choy

Snapper in Indian Crazy Water served with blanched spinach
Snapper in Indian Crazy Water served with blanched spinach