Sunday, 29 March 2015

Roast Beetroot

Growing up, beetroot to me meant red circular slices, in Golden Circle brand cans, bathed in pinky juices that tasted... well... like canned beetroot. I never did like the taste, or the texture of it. If I was unlucky enough to score a slice on a hamburger I would remove it in a nanosecond and drop it onto the plate of the closest beetroot loving person. There was always someone who wanted the slice. Pity it always left a red liquidly beetroot tasting residue behind...

Years later, after hearing lots of people, and lots of cooks rave about how different fresh roasted beetroot tastes, I decided to give it a crack.

I planted 8 little beetroot seedlings, dutifully watered and cared for them week after week, and now I have 8 juicy fresh beets ready for eating.

So I headed to Pinterest to get the skinny of how to roast and skin beetroot. 

Oven on.
Gloves ready.
Ready set bake...



In summary... I am converted. Fresh, roasted beets taste nothing like their canned brothers. Its never too late to try new things in life.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

White choc chip and macadamia cookies

Some weekends I don't get into the baking groove.
Other weekends, I do.

This weekend, I got my bake on!

Hankering the crunch and delicate taste of macadamia's I found the perfect recipe. White choc chip and macadamia cookies, which is found in the Nestle publication Australia's Sweet Baking Favourites. I picked up a copy of this book at the recent Lifeline bookfair, and can see myself steadily working my way through page by page. The recipes are so easy, and so familiar in a nostalgic kind of way. Classics. Simple. The kind of recipes we made with mum, the ones that are definite sellers at the school fete, and the tried and tested ones for afternoon teas, and after school indulgences.

White choc chip and macadamia cookies

125g butter, melted
3/4 cup (165g) brown sugar
1 egg
1 3/4 cups self raising flour, sifted
1 cup (190g) white choc bits
3/4 cup (140g) coarsely chopped unroasted macadamia nuts

1. Pop the oven on to 170/150 degrees fan forced. Grease and line two baking trays with baking paper.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy, add egg: beat until just combined.
3. Stir in flour, choc bits and macadamias. Mix until well combined.
4. Roll level tablespoons of mixture in balls; place about 4cm apart on prepared trays gently press down on dough to flatten slightly. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool on trays for 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sit back. Pop the kettle on and settle back with a well deserved cookie break.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Basil Pesto

My burgeoning bunch of basil growing in vegetable bed number 2 has been begging to be made into something. Well, not quite begging, but you know what I mean! A quick Pinterest search returned pesto recipe after pesto recipe... so hey presto!  Pesto.

I found a nice simple recipe, thanks to The Frugal Girls, which whizzed up in no time. I think I spent more time phaffing about taking photos of the ingredients, than I did actually making the pesto. Dinner tonight is going to be chicken, pasta, roasted cherry tomatoes and pesto.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Taylor's St Andrews Wine Dinner

Oh boy, another month, another wine dinner. Last month, my gal pals and I attended a wine dinner, and this month... we did it again!

This month was the Taylor's wine family who hosted their St Andrews Wine Dinner at the Hellenic Club in Woden. Such great value, costing just $80 each for 5 courses, and 6 wines no less. The food was superb, and you could definitely tell that planning and skill had been applied.

First course, or as a good friend once called them, was 'horses doovers'. We only got to sample one of the three on offer, but it was a grand tasty little morsel, washed down with a sparkling brut that was on the sweet side of dry, so I found it quite drinkable.

Second course was colourful and fresh, and a friend on FB commented it looked like the Very Hungry Caterpillar! Thin as thin layers of avocado encased a filling of seafood, dotted over with globes of cavier. Very light and decadent. Riesling was the wine of choice for this course, and it was a great pairing. Fruity and light, with just enough 'punch'.

Next up... the mystery wine. You are each poured a glass of wine, and a series of questions are asked. Those who guess correct stay in the game until a winner is whittled out. The three of us got the first question correct! 'was it red or white?'. Easy. The rest of the answers were just guesses, and we got knocked out pretty quick. The wine turned out to be an Australian, and a blend of 4 varieties no less! Oh well... onto the main....

Course three was the best beef I have ever tasted. Now that is a bold statement, but I stand by it.  A virtual meat log sat upright on the plate. It was a perfectly cooked eye fillet of Cape Grim Beef, sourced from the top of Tasmania. Just seared on the outside and perfectly pinky rare in the middle. It cut like butter with an ordinary knife and I savoured every. single. bite.  A St Andrews shiraz washed this down so well. The shiraz had real peppery flavours and was low in tannins, so it didn't overpower the lovely beef.

Course four was a cheese course. The last wine dinner we attended also had a cheese course before dessert. Its a little different for me. Some say its the 'European way'. Good thing was this course was pretty much a large cracker portioned with a dollop of soft brie and a piece fig. More a palate cleanser. A couple of Cabernet Sauvignon were served, which were a little too tannin-ey for me. Sorry to say that, considering one was $165 a bottle, but others seemed to really like it. I would have had more of that shiraz...!

Last course (phew, we did it!) was dessert. A triple chocolate affair that was a little on the bitter side. The fun bit was one waiter served, while the next poured warm chocolate over the cake. It made for a fun photograph, but I had to be quick to get the shot!

In wrapping up, a fun night, great food, a great atmosphere, and plenty of new flavours to experience.  Final note... I now know I like shiraz. 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Hardy's Wine Dinner


My besties and I love catching up over good food. When we get the chance to attend something a little 'fancy' we jump at it! Like this Hardy's Wine Dinner, held on 19th of February at the Canberra Southern Cross Club's Tuggeranong venue, in their Peppercress Restaurant. Tickets were only $85 each, which is great value as it included a five (5) course dinner, paired with five (5) matching Hardy's wines.

The menu promised morsels of delights and wines to savour. We each perused the menu days before, so we had it memorised! We later found out the menu had been planned months in advance. The first course was the only one I didn't get a snap of.  We were served in the lounge space just outside the restaurant. It was canapé sized, and came out in chinese spoons. The paired Pinot noir had just the right amount of bubbles and was nice and dry. The tasty mouthful delivered a meaty piece of tasty poached shrimp, a little mayo and a touch of the salad. A lot to fit into a single serving but it worked! A great fresh way to start the night. Next, we were shown to our tables for the night to continue...

Second course was such a cute offering!! It was titled "Canned Fish" and we didn't know what we were in for. The wait staff glided out of the kitchen, each laden with trays containing actual cans, the kind you find sardines in! Except these were not sealed, but had the tops balanced on top to allow you to peek into the buttery coral salmon within. The salmon was sooo tender you could have eaten it with a spoon. The caviar popped excitedly in my mouth, and the seaweed added a unique texture. If I could have kept the tin, I would have, but alas it was whipped away when we were done. The wine for this course was an Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc which was bold and fruity, but did not overwhelm the delicate fish.
Roll on to course number three... 

Three Little Pigs... which consisted of a deep fried croquette, a slice of smoky serrano ham, and a baton of citrus crackle. Like robots, everyone seemed to dive for the crackle and all you could hear was crunch crunch mmmm across the restaurant. There was a delicious sauce? chutney? served with the dish, and it tasted almost orange marmaladey to me. I wanted more!!! The wine paired with this little porky package was an Adelaide Hills Chardy. Intense, bold, and full of fruity punch. Nice one Hardy's.

Peppercress was soley booked for this wine night. The crowd was having a ball and we were only half way through!

Course number four... time for the reds to make an appearance. 'Six Pack' listed an Angus split rib of beef, and I was expecting something with a bone. Nope, no bone. Just tender, flaky, moist beef which had been sous vide for 24 hours no less! Now this was a hearty dish, served with a CabSav. I didn't used to be a red wine liker, but my tastes are changing and this wine certainly went well with the beef.

Course number five.. (phew, hang in there) was a cheese 'n crackers affair. The cheddar was quite strong but very tasty. The paired wine was a shiraz, which I thought was a little overpowering for a dessert course. The pic here is showing my glass of Tawny which was served with course number six, the bitter chocolate pie. 

The last course... the bitter chocolate pie, which really needed a rich cherry sauce to make it more enjoyable. It was a tad dry for most of us. A little disappointing to end on a less than stellar note.

All up, a really enjoyable night. We didn't do well at all with the 'mystery round' wine, where they served you a wine and you had to guess the variety, the region, the winery AND the bin number.  Three lucky people did just that and hats off to them!

Can't wait for the next 'fancy' night! stay tuned... I will be attending one on 4 March at the Hellenic Club. Blog post to follow :)

In My Kitchen - March 2015

Welcome to my In My Kitchen (IMK) post for March. This series is brought to you by the lovely blogger Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial fame. Pop on over to her blog, and you'll find links to bloggers from all over the world that take part in this wonderful series. Stay a while too, and get to know Celia. Have you met Priscilla, her sourdough starter? She has gained worldwide fame!

In my kitchen this month are fresh blackberries. Not ones that I've picked, but ones that I've purchased. Ones that I know where they come from. Isn't it sad that its taken a full on health scare, where there are nearly two dozen people sick from HepA to finally do something about food labelling in this country.  Lets hope there is not too much push back from business and labelling laws are actually worth their salt...

In my kitchen... is the last ever issue of SBS Feast magazine.  I got wind on social media a few days before the issue came out that it was to be the last. Alix Davis' editorial in the April issue confirms that the call to pull the magazine was swift, and was made just after the edition was sent to print. I really enjoyed this magazine, as it filled a well needed niche in the market. Lots of interesting stories about food origin, food cultures, and recipes from all over the world. I hope the team goes on to something related... time will tell.

In my kitchen... are duck eggs! turned into two duck egg sponges. The first cake was a tester for consumption at home, covered in cream and passionfruit. The second was taken to work, shared amongst colleagues and paired with whipped cream and diced strawberries. Birds Custard Powder was used in both. When we were kids, my folks used to get Birds shipped out from family in the UK, as we couldn't get it in Australia then. I guess I use it now because I've grown up with it.

In my kitchen... is a quick "no supermarket" baked chicken dinner. Tomatoes from my garden, remaining veg and the bacon from the farmers market and chicken from the butcher.

In my kitchen... is a gorgeous bud flower ring vase, made by a local potter.

In someone elses kitchen... Well the Lanyon Café in Canberra to be exact, is breakfast at a friend's birthday celebration. Eggs benny is my 'go to' café breakfast. Yum!

So tell me, what is going on in your kitchen this month? Drop me a line, I'd love to hear about it. Or better yet, join in the IMK series fun.
Cheers, Kirsty xx