Visual Feasts

Christchurch, New Zealand

September 1, 2014
185 chairs Christchurch

Last week, I was lucky enough to travel to Christchurch for a week. I had a fantastic time, met some awesome people and ate at some lovely restaurants (post coming soon).

It was my first time walking around the Christchurch CBD since the earthquake in February 2011, and it was quite eerie walking past empty pieces of land where buildings used to stand. Continue Reading…

Eating Out, Melbourne

Ezard

July 28, 2014
Ezard dessert tasting plate to share

A few weeks ago, it was Nathan’s birthday and, as we had friends visiting from Christchurch, it seemed fitting to take them to one of Melbournes best restaurants (and one of Nathans favourites!). Ezard is located on Flinders Lane, next door to the Adelphi hotel it is tucked away below the street.  Continue Reading…

Eating Out, Melbourne

Mr Hive Kitchen and Bar

July 7, 2014
Mr Hive Menu


Located in the Crown Metropol Hotel, Mr Hive Kitchen & Bar is a large restaurant that has a warm and inviting interior. There was a live band playing the night that we dined, which gave the restaurant a more casual atmosphere.

They are incredibly busy, and though we are seated quickly, when an amusé bouche is placed on our table, we are not told what it is, and I am the first to take an experimental bite. It is a square of watermelon in a crumb of some sort which I cannot quite place and we are disappointed to not be told what it is, though it does act as a palate cleanser of sorts.

watermelon amusé bouche

I start off with the beef tartare, which was plated beautifully and looked delicious. Although the meat has been prepared well, it is incredibly spicy which overwhelms the rest of the flavours and I think it would have been better to have been asked about spice preference.

Mr Hive Beef Tartare and sourdough $19

Mr Hive Beef Tartare and sourdough $19

The smoked beetroot and goats cheese entree, which both Nathan and his Dad ordered, is also beautifully plated. The beetroot is tender and the goats cheese is tangy. There is a sweetness to the dish that we can’t quite place and which hides the smoked beetroot flavour.

Smoked Beetroot and Goats Cheese $16

Smoked Beetroot and Goats Cheese $16

I ordered the pork belly for my main, as I had heard great things and was looking forward to it (I am a sucker for crackling). While the pork is well flavoured, it was surprisingly dry and I was left slightly disappointed. However, the squash and sage that accompany it are beautiful, with the squash mash wonderfully smooth and silky.

 Crispy Otway pork belly  lentils squash & sage $35

Crispy Otway pork belly
lentils squash & sage $35

Nathan had ordered the ox cheek, which was melt in the mouth tender and broke away when pressed with a fork, with the lack of seasoning being its only let down.

Gippsland ox cheek,  polenta and carrot $40

Gippsland ox cheek,
polenta and carrot $40

The lamb chops were accompanied by a slice of bubble and squeak which was a little stodgy. The lamb itself was cooked to a beautiful pink and was seasoned well.

Barnsley lamb chops, bubble and squeak $38

Barnsley lamb chops, bubble and squeak $38

Although the mains had let us down, I was looking forward to ordering dessert as Mr Hive is well known for having fantastic desserts and when I saw they had a pumpkin pie my mind was made up.

Spiced Pumpkin Pie, pecan and orange $15

Spiced Pumpkin Pie, pecan and orange $15

The pumpkin pie came with some pumpkin puree and cream and was as pretty as a picture. It was well spiced, light and airy and a lovely dessert to end a meal that we all felt let down by. It may have been that it was a busy Saturday night, but I felt that for the prices Mr Hive Kitchen & Bar should have been better.

 

Mr. Hive Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

Eating Out, Melbourne

Melt Pizza

June 26, 2014
Melt SIgn

If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen a photo I took of a delicious looking pizza a few weeks back when Nathan and I popped into the newly opened Melt Pizza. Our pizzas were delicious and since then we have been meaning to return, so when I got an email from Dan, who owns Melt with his wife Elise, I was excited to find out more (and eat more delicious pizza).

Dan and Elise, came up with the concept for Melt as a pizza restaurant that focussed on producing healthy pizzas. They scoured different pizza restaurants and researched all the information they could find, discovering that pizza was originally invented in Naples as a fast and nutritious meal. They jumped on a plane and enrolled in The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, where they learnt all the skills involved in making a traditional Napoletana Pizza, from dough stretching right down to the correct oven shape. As Dan says Melt serves “old style pizza in a new way”. I love the concept of being able to interact with the staff making your meal, and being able to be involved makes the whole experience more personable. 

Located at 171 Chapel Street, Melt was a short walk away for me. It was a freezing night when I visited and the warm lights and friendly greeting were a welcome respite from the chill outside. The first thing you will notice when you walk into Melt is that it not your average pizza place. You get to choose what you want on your pizza from the base sauce (choice of tomato, pesto or garlic) to the toppings and the cheese. Set up kind of like Subway (but oh so much better), you get to see the balls of dough being hand stretched and the staff are more than happy to give recommendations on toppings. For those who may not like decision making, they also have a menu with pizzas like Margherita and Roasted Pumpkin. There are also salad options and meatballs available for those who may not feel like pizza.

Pizza oven

It’s a pretty amazing experience watching the dough being hand stretched, going down the line and picking ingredients. By the time you are at the till to pay, your pizza is in a whopping 400 C wood fired oven and with a cooking time of an incredible two minutes (average bake time for most pizzas is 10-12  minutes), when you sit down it’s not long before your pizza appears in front of you.

pizza in oven

On Dans recommendation I try a pizza with a base of pesto, hot salami, roasted pumpkin, fresh mozzarella and fresh chilli. It is delicious, and though there is hit of heat, it is not overpowering. The thinner crust means that you don’t leave feeling overly full or bloated as some of the heavier thicker based crusts do. Definitely one to try.

Melt Pizza

The restaurant itself is an amazing space, light and airy with loads of lovely little details like terracotta tiles and hanging lights. They have several spaces in which to enjoy your pizza, including a courtyard and private room, which would be perfect for a group catchup.

Melt courtyard Melt tableMelt front of house

I had a lovely evening at Melt, while I ate my pizza I was able to observe others diners coming in and out. There were loads of regulars who popped in (always a good thing) as well as first timers, what stood out for me though was how everyone was greeted with a friendly smile and excellent service. Melt Pizza is  a great addition to the Windsor end of Chapel Street, and with pizzas ranging from $11 – $16 they are more than affordable. We will definitely be returning.

Eating with Katie dined as a very happy guest of Melt Pizza 

Melt Pizza on Urbanspoon

Breakfast, Eating In

Avocado Smash, Salmon and Poached Egg on Toast

June 23, 2014
Avocado Smash, Poached Egg and Salmon on Toast


So you know what happened this weekend? The Winter Solstice (well in the Southern Hemisphere anyway), which now means that the days are going to get longer and lighter, yay! This is a great reason to celebrate and what better way to celebrate lighter mornings than with a breakfast recipe.

Avocado on toast has always been a delicious breakfast treat and it is definitely doing its rounds on cafe menus around Melbourne. I normally love avocado and tomato on toast, but decided as a weekend treat to team it with smoked salmon and a poached egg.

The smoked salmon and egg add a richness to the avocado that makes it a great Sunday lunch option. Don’t worry if you haven’t poached an egg before, it is easily done and you only need to take care when removing the egg from the water. If you aren’t comfortable poaching an egg, a soft boiled egg would also work well.

Did you do anything to celebrate Winter Solstice? What is your favourite ingredient to combine with avocado?

Avocado and oozing poached egg

Avocado Smash, Salmon & Poached Egg on Toast
An original recipe from Eating with Katie

2 slices bread, toasted
1 avocado
50g feta
wedge of lemon
2 slices of smoked salmon
2 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
salt and pepper, to season

Method

1. Fill a medium saucepan with water until about half full. Add vinegar and salt and bring to the boil.
2. While waiting for water to boil smash avocado. Remove flesh from avocado and place into a bowl along with a squeeze of lemon and some salt and pepper. Smash with a fork to desired texture. Add in feta and mix well.
3. Spoon avocado mixture onto the toasted bread and lay slices of smoked salmon on top.
4. When water has come to a boil, reduce heat and bring water to a simmer. Place one egg onto a saucer. With a spoon stir the water to produce a whirlpool and gently slide in egg from saucer. Cook for 2-3 minutes for a semi-soft yolk. Gently remove egg with a slotted spoon and place carefully on to top of salmon. Repeat the process with the second egg.
5. To serve, sprinkle with paprika or freshly ground pepper.

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Dinner, Eating In

Thai Pumpkin Soup

June 18, 2014
thai pumpkin soup on board

I know I talk about the weather a lot, but with the sun well and truly gone by the time we get home, something warm and comforting is needed for dinner. Soup is one of those dishes that is comforting in it’s warmth and leaves you feeling surprisingly satisfied.

In winter, I find that a more substantial soup is needed. One that is a bit thicker and richer. Pumpkin soup has always been one of my standby winter soups because of it’s thickness and it’s versatility in what it can be flavoured with. The flavours of this Thai Pumpkin Soup meld well together and the spice from the red curry paste adds a depth of heat that is welcome in the Winter months. I used a simple recipe which I found on the Taste website and made a slight alteration to it by adding an onion as well as substituting a cup of water for a cup of stock which I thought added a depth of flavour.

This is an easy week night recipe, for when a hard days work has exhausted you but you still want something home made and comforting. All you have do is chop and onion and some pumpkin, fry it off with the red curry paste and then add the coconut cream, stock and water. Once thats done you can leave it to bubble away merrily for 25 minutes which gives you time to have a glass of wine and put your slippers on 😉

Do you have a winter standby dish and what is your favourite soup?

thai pumpkin soup

Thai Pumpkin Soup
Adapted from taste.com.au

1 tablespoon oil
1kg butternut pumpkin, peeled, cut into 1.5cm pieces
1 onion
2 tablespoons red curry paste
270ml can coconut cream
1 cup water
1 cup chicken stock
coriander, to garnish

Method

1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Fry onion, pumpkin and red curry paste for a few minutes, or until the curry paste starts sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add coconut cream. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
2. Add water and stock. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered for 20-25 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft.
3. Blend or process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in bowls topped with coriander.


Eating In, Lunch

Herby Freekah Salad with Feta and Chicken

June 12, 2014
Freekah Salad

I am finally back in the working world, and it seemed fitting that I should dedicate a post to lunches that you can take to work. It is so easy to fall into the trap of buying lunches, but it can be dangerous and expensive, so I am trying to get into a good habit from the get go and pre make lunches.

Soggy sandwiches begone, we are living in a world where beautiful ingredients are at our finger tips and we can make tasty and healthy meals that are quick and easy.

This freekah salad, is inspired by the ancient grain salad that featured on the menu at a Greek restaurant in Melbourne. Freekah, is a roasted green wheat that is high in fibre and low GI. Recently labelled as a superfood, it is roasted while the plant is still young so retains loads of awesome nutrients.

If you don’t have any freekah or can’t get your hands on it, you can substitute it with pearl barley or even brown rice, just adjust the cooking times accordingly.

I mixed through some left over poached chicken, but you could  leave that out or substitute it for another protein such as roast chicken or beef, it’s completely up to you.

Freekah SaladFreekah Salad & herbs

 

Herby Freekah Salad with Feta and Chicken
An original recipe from Eating with Katie

1 cup freekah
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground corriander
1 small garlic clove, crushed
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
100g feta cheese
2 cups of fresh herbs such as parsley, mint and corriander
1 poached chicken breast, or any leftover cooked meat
handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half (optional)
2 cups of baby spinach, cooked (optional)

Method

1. Cook the freekah according to packet instructions.

2. Make the dressing by whisking lemon juice, zest, salt, cumin, corrainder, crushed garlic and extra virgin olive oil.

3. When the freekah is cooked, drain and let cool.

4. Add freekah to dressing and mix until well coated. Add chicken, herbs, feta, tomato and spinach and mix again gently until everything is coated in the dressing. Check seasoning and adjust to taste.

 

Dinner, Eating In

Poached Chicken Risotto

June 10, 2014
poached chicken risotto

Have you poached chicken breast before? When I first read the instructions for a poached chicken breast, I was sceptical that some water, bay leaves, and peppercorns would bring flavour to the meat. I was wrong. If you haven’t poached a chicken breast before, you will be amazed at how fragrant the water becomes and the way that it flavours the chicken.

Poaching a chicken breast, stops the meat from drying out and at the same time, is a healthy alternative method of cooking as there is little fat involved. It is a great option for take to work lunches, as the chicken can be added to sandwiches and salads. I added my chicken to risotto with some tarragon leaves and a drizzle of truffle oil.

In a way, this post is a Trumpeting Tuesday post as I got the recipe from the ‘What Katie Ate’ cookbook. Katie Quinn Davies is a blogger based in Sydney and her photographs, and cookbook are divine.

Poached Chicken Risotto
Recipe from ‘What Katie Ate, Recipes and  other Bits & Bobs’ pg 190

 

½ tsp black peppercorn
2 dried bay leaves
2 x 200g free-range chicken breast fillets
1.2 ltr chicken stock
1 tbsp olive oil
50g butter
1 white onion, finely chopped
300g arborio rice
100ml white wine
Small handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g pecorino, grated, plus extra to serve
White truffle oil, for drizzling
A few tarragon leaves, optional

 

Method

1. Place the bay leaves, peppercorns and 750 millilitres of water in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes to infuse the flavours. Add the chicken breasts, then cover and simmer over a low heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly, then drain and tear the chicken into strips.
2. Pour the stock into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to very low, then cover and keep it warm until needed.
3. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large heavy-based saucepan or flameproof casserole dish until the butter has melted. Add the onion and cook for five to 10 minutes or until softened. Add the rice and stir to coat with the onion mixture, then pour in the wine and simmer, stirring, until the liquid has reduced a little.
4. Add a ladleful of warm stock to the rice and cook, stirring, until it has been completely absorbed. Continue adding the stock in this way until there is only one ladleful of stock left in the pan. Add the chicken, parsley and finally, the remaining stock. Stir to combine, then season to taste with salt and pepper. By now, the risotto should have a lovely creamy consistency. When the last of the stock has been absorbed, stir in the pecorino.
5. To serve, spoon portions of the risotto onto plates. Drizzle with a little white truffle oil, add a scattering of extra pecorino and one or two tarragon leaves (if using) then finish with a final grind of black pepper.

Baking, Eating In

Chai Chiffon Cake

June 9, 2014
chai chiffon cake & slice

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Pinterest and Foodgawker lately and keep seeing chiffon cakes pop up. Chiffon cake, like the material it is named after, is a light and airy cake. The lightness comes from the beaten egg whites which are folded into the cake batter before it is baked. It is a long weekend here in Australia and it seemed like the right time to experiment and make one. We had my sister in law over for lunch on Sunday and as she enjoys chai tea I decided to make a chai chiffon cake as I thought the delicate flavour of the chai would compliment the lightness of the cake.

I have never made a chiffon cake before and was lucky to find a great post on Jo the Tart Queen with loads of hints and tips, as they can be quite difficult.  I adapted the recipe to make the cake a chai one, by steeping 2 chai teabags in the milk and water which I warmed slightly. I also tore open a 3rd tea bag and added the contents when I was beating the egg yolks, which added more chai flavour as I wasn’t sure that the milky chai would be enough for the flavour to come through.

I decorated the cake with some whipped cream and cinnamon, to give it a chai latte appearance, but I think icing sugar and cinnamon would work well too. It is a very delicate cake, so a buttercream icing may tear it.

It is also important to use the right tin, try and avoid using a non stick as much as possible and do not grease the tin, I used an aluminium angel cake tin and it came out perfectly without greasing. On a final note, wait until the cake is completely cool before removing it from the tin, don’t be tempted to remove it before then as you will more than likely end up with a broken cake.

How do you like to spend your long weekends? Have you made a chiffon cake before?

chai chiffon cakechai chiffon cake slicechai chiffon cake & slice

 

Chai Chiffon Cake
Recipe adapted from Jo the Tart Queen

Group A
5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
150g granulated sugar
85ml neutral oil such as canola or grape seed
35ml full cream milk
40ml water
160g cake flour, sifted
3/4 teaspoon double acting baking powder (I used Wards), sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 chai teabags

Group B
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
100g caster sugar

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Get your cake tin out and remember not to grease it.
2. Warm milk and water on stove or in microwave and place 2 chai teabags in the liquid to steep for 5 minutes.
3. Whisk yolks, sugar and the contents of the third teabag until pale and light. Add in the oil and whisk until incorporated.
4. Add in the chai infused milky water, then whisk in sifted dry ingredients until there are no lumps
5. Use a stand or hand held mixer to whip the egg whites. If you are using a stand mixer, use the whist attachment and whisk on medium speed until egg whites are foamy, turn the mixer to high and mix until soft peaks appear.
6. Gradually add caster sugar in small additions so that it has time to dissolve and mix until the egg whites become glossy and have stiff peaks.
7. Add 1/4 of the egg whites to the cake batter and gently whisk until well incorporated. By doing this, we are bringing the batter to a similar texture to the egg whites which will make it easier for folding in the remaining egg white mixture.
8. Add 1/2 of the remaining egg whites and gently fold in using a rubber spatula. Once you can no longer see the whites, fold in the remaining egg whites.
9. Gently pour the batter into the tin and using a rubber spatula, smooth out the top of the cake. Tap the tin lightly on the kitchen counter twice to remove air bubbles.
10. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour and 5 minutes. After 25 minutes check on the cake and if the top is beginning to brown too much or crack, cover with tin foil. You can also turn the temperature down to 170-175 C.
11. The cake is ready when the top is lightly brown and springs back when touched.
12. Remove cake from oven and place upside down on a cooling rack so that the base of the cake tin is facing up. When the cake is completely cooled, run a palate knife lightly around the edge , if you do have a removable base, gently tap around the base of the cake tin to help the cake come out. Try not to yank or force the cake out as it is very delicate.
13. Serve with whipped cream or with icing sugar. The cake will last for around 3 days and should be kept in an airtight container. If like me you decorated it with whipped cream, it is best stored in the fridge.

Desserts, Eating In

Philly Toblerone Cheesecake

June 3, 2014
Toblerone cheesecake slice

Okay, so I am going to put it out there and tell you that I love Mondays. Yes, I know we are supposed to be united in our hatred of Monday, but I am fortunate in that every Monday night I get together with my husband and four of some of our best friends for dinner. We each take turns at hosting dinner, and this Monday it was our turn.

One of my favourite things about our dinners is that I get to make new dishes. I am particularly fond of trying new dessert options, Nathan had suggested a Toblerone cheesecake a few weeks ago and because our main meal wasn’t too rich, I thought this was a good time to try it out.

This is one of those fantastic cheesecake recipes that you don’t need to bake, you make the base, mix the filling together and put it into the fridge to set – great when you are busy with work and all the other activities that get in the way of cooking and eating 😉

Like the last Philadelphia cheesecake recipe I made, this is pretty decadent and you won’t need much to feel like your chocolate craving has been satisfied.

Do you have a particular day of week you enjoy? And whats your favourite dessert to make when you have guests?

Toblerone cheesecake

Toblerone cheesecake slice

Philadelphia Toblerone Cheesecake
Recipe courtesy of Philadelphia Cream Cheese

1 cup plain chocolate biscuit crumbs
80g butter, melted
1/4 cup ground almonds

500g cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
200g Toblerone chocolate and another 200g for shaving
1/2 cup thickened cream

Method

1. Combine biscuit crumbs, butter and almonds. Press into the base of a lightly greased and paper line 20cm springform cake tin and place in fridge to chill.
2. Melt toblerone in a heatproof bowl placed over a bowl of simmering water.
3.  Beat cream cheese and sugar using an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the melted toblerone and cream until well combined.
4. Pour into the chilled biscuit base and place in the fridge to set for 2-3 hours, or overnight.
5. Serve topped with shaved toblerone.