Monday, April 18, 2011

Recipe - Meatless Monday: Moroccan carrot & chick pea hot pot

This baby is still simmering on the stove, but I thought I'd blog the recipe in the event that anyone was searching for a yummy looking autumn dish.  The proof of course, will be in the eating, which I can't wait to do in a couple of hours.

This recipe comes from it by the Delicious Magazine's Faking It by Valli Little. I've substituted parsnip for half a kumera and a small eggplant because that's what I had in the fridge.


2 tbs olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced (I accidentally chopped)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp each ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger, cayenne pepper and paprika
2 bunches baby carrots, scrubbed, trimmed with some stem left intact
1 parsnip (or substitute like me)
400g can tinned chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup vegetable stock or water (I used stock, more flavour)
400g can chick peas, drained & rinsed
1/3 cup chopped coriander leaves
2 tsp chopped mint leaves
Couscous, to serve


Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat & add onion, stirring for 2 mins or until starting to soften.  Add the garlic and spices and stir for a few seconds until fragrant.  Add carrots and your other veggies and stir to coat in the spice and onion mix. 

Stir in the tomato, lemon juice, stock/water and cover for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.  Add the chick peas and heat through for 2-3 minutes.  

Remove from the heat, then stir through the coriander and mint.  Serve with couscous.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Recipe - Roasted vegetable and red quinoa salad

I couldn't face another veggie pizza on Meatless Monday (not sure why, they're very tasty), so I improvised and made this quinoa salad instead.  Another bloody delicious quinoa meal, it comes up trumps again as my new favourite grain.


1.5 cups uncooked red quinoa (but you can substitute white or black quinoa)
4.5 cups chicken stock
1 onion, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin seeds, ground turmeric, ground coriander seeds
2 small kumera, cut into small pieces and roasted
1 small eggplant, cut in half lengthwise, roasted
3 zucchini, cut into thin slices, lengthways
1 red capsicum, roasted, skin on
Half a punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 bunch mint, chopped
1/2 bunch coriander, chopped


Roast veggies and once done, put the red capsicum in a plastic bag and seal, to enable steam to help lift the skin off.  Once cooled peel off the skin.  Peel the skin off the eggplant and cut into 2cm cubes. Fry zucchini on a griddle fry pan or similar. A normal fry pan will do the trick, I just happen to like the charred stripes.

Add chicken stock to quinoa and cook quinoa according to directions.  My packet of red quinoa said to boil for 15 minutes but that wasn't nearly enough, I found I cooked it for over 20 minutes.  It shouldn't be too crunchy or gluggy, so keep testing it.  [Don't worry, it will taste better than it smells, which is a bit like yellow split peas]

While quinoa is cooking, fry onions for a couple of minutes in 1 tablespoon of oil, then add remaining oil and spices.  Cook for several minutes more until fragrant.

Once quinoa has cooked, allow to cool.  Place cooked quinoa into a salad bowl and add onion & spice mix, then roasted veggies, cherry tomatoes and finally, chopped herbs.

The only thing missing in this salad was a bit of crunch, so you could add chopped fennel, or just do what I did and serve with a crunchy side salad.

Serves 4-6 if serving as a side dish, serves 2 as a meal (and you'll still have some leftovers for lunch the next day).

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sydney Restaurant Review: Bronte Road Bistro 25 March 2011

When the local restaurant's chef boasts credentials such as Tetsuyas, Forbes and Burton, it is embarrassing to admit its taken me about 2 years to actually get there to eat.  I think its a bit like travelling overseas. So often we go further afield when a little piece of heaven is right on our door step.

Bronte Road Bistro is our little piece of heaven.

We sat in the airy annex over looking the courtyard with the yellow and white stripey awning in sight.  For me, there is something really appealing about looking at a yellow and white stripey awning. It is memories of The Ivy?  Surely not.  Maybe its a flashback to the Gold Coast in the 80's which to me, conjures feelings of summer, possibilities, fun and old age.

Back to the restaurant.

As soon as we sat down Miss 9 decided to have a tantrum about something inconsequential and Stu Parsons, the co-owner, handled it with style and grace.  Stu got some well-deserved points before we ordered.

Although light on kid-friendly options, we managed to choose some fish & chips for one child and deep fried prawns with lime aioli for the second.  We started with the charcuterie plate ($27) which offered a selection of wagyu bresaola, salami, jamon de trevelez, cornichons and chicken liver parfait, served with Iggy's bread.  The parfait, I might add, was particularly par-fait, spread liberally on the Iggy's bread, especially with a wee bit o' cornichon.....  The parfait was light and airy and delicious, full of livery goodness.

That was enough of a starter for me, but hubby, the one of the hollow legs, ordered half a dozen Sydney rock oysters ($3 each) which he assures me were amazing.

The kids meals were also very good.  Miss 9 thankfully assured us that the fish and chips ($15) was better than the standard beach side fish & chips. Phew.

Our mains then arrived.  I ordered an entree sized seared scallops with peas & spring onions ($18).  The scallops were incredibly tender and moist and were lovely with the pureed peas.  This sort of dish reminds me of spring.

Hubby ordered the mulloway with crispy polenta, swiss chard and agrodolce sauce ($31).  We forgot to even ask what the sauce was, but being adept at google searches, I later discovered (thanks to Wikipedia) that agrodolce sauce is is a traditional sweet and sour sauce in Italian. Its name comes from "agro" (sour) and "dolce" (sweet).  So basically its a fancy-schmancy way of saying "fish with sweet & sour sauce". Hubby said it tasted very fancy-schmancy too.

Apologies for the embarrassingly bad photography.  I really must take my digital camera out with me more often.  Shocker!

Our side had me swooning in green veggie heaven.  The 3 pea salad, marjoram & fetta salad ($10) was a crispy, crunchy delight and even though I was thoroughly peed with my scallops I wanted to pea some more. 

To go with the meal we ordered a 2009 Shaky Bridge "Pioneer" pinot gris from New Zealand ($45).  I loved it.  Not too fruity and very drinkable indeed, perfect with our seafood.

As we'd taken so long to visit Bronte Road Bistro we thought it would be rude not to sample a dessert and since I am a big fan of a lemon tart with vanilla icecream ($12), we ordered that with 2 spoons.  Except we tucked in so quickly that I forgot to take a photo of it when it hit the table.  Oh well.  The spoon action shot will give you an indication of what it was like ;-)

And the verdict?  Bronte Road Bistro is an excellent local bistro/restaurant.  The prices are a little steeper than other local restaurants, but I think the food is better and you really can't beat that beautiful courtyard for al fresco dining.  So good we've been back already and other family members have also made a return visit.  Approval dutifully stamped!

Bronte Road Bistro
282 Bronte Rd
Charing Cross

Ph. 9389 3028

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sydney Restaurant Review: Sake Restaurant: 5 April 2011

For our [lucky] 13th wedding anniversary dinner I wanted to choose a special restaurant, preferably one that neither of us had been to.  Quay is definitely on the list, but after all the hoo-haa of the snow egg and Masterchef, the waiting list is a mile long and I just haven't been that organised.

Knowing @Chef_Ali was definitely a plus when it came to choosing the venue, however I'd independently heard great things about Sake Restaurant and knew it had recently won a chef's hat, so booked that and kept it a secret from Mr YourLocalMarkets.

And what a fab surprise it was.

From the moment we walked in, all the staff wished us Happy Anniversary.  Ahh, so nice to feel special.  The fit out of this restaurant screams fabulous, funky & delicious.  From the drums on the wall (above) to the art work, the exposed chunky wooden beams and wonderful open kitchen, I loved this restaurant from the word go.

We hadn't done any research on what to order so we just went with what sounded good and tried to steer away from anything that sounded like traditional sushi. So we ordered:

Wagyu new style (thin slices of wagyu beef lightly seared with hot oil and finished with ginger, chives and yuzu soy):

Tasty, incredibly tender and most definitely moreish.  The teeny tiny garnish of chives on top just added that extra ker-pow to the dish.  Perfect.

Then arrived some steamed prawn dumplings.  We didn't order these and sent them back, until they boomeranged and we discovered they were a little gift from the kitchen.  We had purposely not ordered anything traditional, but OMG!  Best prawn dumplings EVER! Pardon the dodgy iPhone photo.  Must learn: do not to move arm when taking photos!

These little guys were actually encased in a swirl of rice noodles rather than a sheet of rice noodle.  And the prawns were subtle and tender, much nicer than anything I've ever had at yum cha.

Next came the sashimi tacos (tuna and salmon sashimi filled baby tacos with chilled tomato salsa matched with Kozaemon Junmai "sake shots':

This was my favourite dish for the night.  Tender, soft, crunchy, flavoursome.  They were even topped with.... wait for it... raw spanish onion and you won't believe it, but the spanish onion actually tasted like a real spanish onion, with a very mild onion flavour.  Not like those monstrosities from the supermarket that just taste like a normal onion.  [Onion rant over now] 

I would go back just to have these alone.  And the sake was amazing, the top of the shot glass was encrusted with sugar.  Perfecto!

Then came the tonkatsu cups (4 pieces of panko-fried pork belly & spring onion bites, served in lettuce cups with mustard miso and Japanese barbeque sauce.

Yummy, but they were a little too deep fried and as a massive pork belly lover, weren't porky enough for me.  They were more like a (dutch fritter).

Next on the list was the sashimi plate.

All of the fish was amazingly fresh and firm, but melt-in-your-mouth soft. I must admit I'm a little over the sashimi at those conveyor belt sushi places being all washed/thawed out.  This sashimi was straight out of the ocean.  My favourite, which I have never eaten before as sashimi?  The scallop.  Incredible.

The next dish to arrive was ocean trout, which had been pan-seared served with edamame puree and Asian mushrooms tossed in butter soy. Delicious the edamame puree being a delightfully creamy counterpoint (in colour, texture and flavour) to the rest of the dish.  The seared edge of the salmon was slightly crunchy whilst the inside remained a soft medium-rare.  Mmmm.  Tummy starting to fill up now.

Our final savoury dish was the miso-cream scallops, pan seared with baby corn, asparagus, shitake mushrooms & yuzu miso cream.  Heavenly.  Ali made this dish.  What a talented young chef!

I'm not sure how I managed to find a secret pocket of my tummy to squeeze in dessert, but like with most things, I managed to do it with some effort.  Luckily the Russian Creme dessert was really light, kind of like eating nothing, but far sweeter and tastier!

I can't recommend Sake more highly.  The food, service & ambience was off the richter.  We've already pencilled-in our favourite sake-drinking friends for a night out in the near future and I can't wait to return to try some other dishes.

Sake Restaurant & Bar
12 Argyle St
The Rocks
Tel: +61 2 9259 5656

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Recipe - Deconstructed Sushi

Much as I heart Delicious Magazine and its cook book, "Faking It" by Valli Little, I almost collected $200 and passed go when I flicked past its "Sushi Rice Bowl" hiding in the Noodle & Rice section.  However, the photo had me checking out the ingredient list before I had time to yawn. As I read through the list I knew I had to give this a whirl as my next Meatless Monday meal.

It was freakin' delicious.  Even if I do say so myself.  But hubby also swore a little bit (in a good way) when he tried it.  This needs to be shared.  Widely.  Thank you to Delicious and and Valli Little for including an eye-catching photo of this meal so I didn't sail past and get stuck in the Chocolate section.  Although that wouldn't have been such a bad thing..... ;-)


2 cups brown rice
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon
2 tbs caster sugar
2tbs Japanese shoyu [I couldn't find anything so fancy-schmancy, even in the health food store, so I used organic soy, just to make my halo extra shiny]
2 tbs brown rice vinegar. [ Again, I just used Asian rice vinegar, which was perfectly fine]
A slurp of Mirin [not in the recipe, but why not?]
400g firm tofu, patted dry & cut into 2cm cubes
1 tbs sunflower oil
4 sheets nori, cut into 5 cm squares
4 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal [the onion hater in me left these babies out and it did not suffer for flavour]
1 lebanese cucumber, sliced into long thin strips on the diagonal
1 avocado
50 grams snow pea sprouts [these were not in season so I used snow peas but any green crunchy veggie would do]
Black sesame seeds [these are FAB for colour & movement]


Cook the rice.  I cooked it in the microwave for about 20ish minutes but you can boil it according to the instructions on the packet.  Don't use that pre-cooked stuff though.  Have you checked out what's in it?  There's stuff in there keeping it fresh and not good stuff - eww.  Unprocessed & fresh = good.

Meanwhile, zest the orange & lemon and combine with the sugar in a saucepan over a medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. 

Remove from the heat and stir in the soy and vinegar.  Stir half the dressing over the cooled rice.

Heat a char grill pan or fry pan over medium heat. Brush the tofu with the oil and cook for a few minutes.  I like mine charred.  A word on my nuggets.  I forgot about reading the recipe (whoops!) and just cut it, then realised I had these tiny little things rolling around in the char grill pan.  Oh well, still tasted good, but next time I'll READ the recipe and stick to the recommended size and make them a little bigger.

Here comes the good bit.  Basically mix everything together into separate bowls and add black sesame seeds last for garnish.  Add the rest of the dressing. Season with soy & extra ginger at the table if you like.

The recipe book showed the tofu chargrilled on some tres funky wooden chopsticks, but bereft of chopsticks or skewers, I used toothpicks for presentation but it looked a little bit ridiculous.  My advice: just mix the tofu into the salad with everything else.  No need to get clever here.  It's better through the salad, trust me.

The recipe book also says to line the bowls with the whole nori sheet but I chopped it up into 5cms squares and mixed it through the salad.  I think its easier to eat that way, otherwise you're pecking around with chopsticks or other implements trying to separate it and eat it.  The nori really is delicious in pieces along with all the other bits.

Serves 4, but you're eating as a whole meal, I'd say it serves 2, especially if you have a boy at the table who is tall with hollow legs.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Recipe - Rabbit Cacciatore

As the weather cools, I start reaching for my warm cardi and slow cooking recipe books.  Whilst this recipe isn't a slow-cook recipe per se, I was inspired when chatting to the goodly folk at Oaklands Produce who sell sustainably reared meat at the Bondi Junction Village Markets.  Amongst their fantastic produce for sale are whole, farmed rabbits.  A customer ordered a rabbit last week and I realised I had never bought and cooked an Oaklands Produce rabbit.  Quel horreur!

Customers at markets are an invaluable source of inspiration and information.  Not only did this gentleman inspire me to cook the said bunny, but to make a rabbit cacciatore. Perfect for a Sydney autumnal day!!

I googled "Rabbit Cacciatore" and found a recipe at  And here it is, with my alterations (of course)

1 whole rabbit, cut into 6-8 pieces
Salt & freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons fresh oregano (the recipe called for thyme but I didn't have any so used the oregano from the garden)
1 teaspoon rosemary (I didn't have any of this so didn't use it)
Plain flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup mushrooms, quartered
3 cups very ripe tomatoes (or 1.5 cans tinned roma tomatoes)
2 red capsicum, seeded & cut into 2cm cubes
1 bay leaf
16 kalamata olives


Sprinkle rabbit pieces generously with salt and pepper, rub half of the oregano leaves into the pieces, then sprinkle with flour to lightly coat.  Heat olive oil in large skillet on medium high. Place the rabbit pieces in the pan in a single layer.  Don't move them. Cook for 2-3 mins on one side until lightly browned then turn and cook for another few minutes.  Remove the rabbit pieces and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium and add the onions, cook for a minute and then add the garlic, capsicum and mushies and cook for a couple of minutes more.  Add more oregano.

Pop rabbit pieces back into the pan.

Cover with tomatoes and the bay leaf.  I also added some water here, feel free to do the same.  Cover the pan and cook for 35 minutes.

Uncover the pan, add olives.  Increase heat to high and cook to boil of excess moisture and reduce the sauce.  When the liquid has reduced by half,  check the seasoning and add more if necessary.  remove from heat & serve.

This was delicious served with brown rice & snow peas but I think this would be much better served with a garlic mash & green beans.  I think next time I'll experiment and cook the rabbit for a few hours to see if the meat will fall off the bone.  I do love a casserole where the meat does that, like magic.  Yummy.

Oaklands Produce can be found at the Bondi Junction Village Markets each Thursday, Friday & Saturday, 9am - 5pm