Sunday, 19 April 2015

How to S-T-R-E-T-C-H your fruit and veg dollar further

At Woolworths the other night, they announced a special on fruit and vegetables that they were clearing out.  From the special trolley at the front of the store, fill a bag with all that you can, and only pay $3 for the whole bag. Yep $3. 

I must admit the fruit and veg was not premium, BUT there were still some good pieces. 

So, I filled a bag, and thought what could I make with all this, and not waste any? 
So I challenged myself, and so far here are the results. 

My bag consisted of: 

... and here's what I used each piece for: 

A single zucchini, which was sliced, steamed in the microwave and eaten as a side with dinner on the first night. 

Nice large mushrooms, half of which were cut up raw and eaten in daily salads that I took to work, and the remainder made their way into a homemade chicken stock. 

Well, these were just eaten as general grab and go fruit. 

For the tomatoes, I adapted a slow roasted tomato recipe by Liz Posmyk. I sprinkled the tomatoes with a mixture of smoked garlic and Himalayan Rock Salt, and cooked the tomatoes for about an hour and a half. I had some for Sunday lunch (with the avocado), and the rest will be eaten this week in salads and in a creamy pasta dish one night for dinner. The tomatoes turned out beautifully soft, and full of flavour from the garlic and the salt. 

Half of the avocado made it into daily salads, and the remaining half was used for a light Sunday lunch. It was sliced up on an open faced toasted sandwich, with some of the semi oven dried tomatoes, and some ranch dressing drizzled over. 

I couldn't resist having limes in the house, that I used one to make a vodka lime and tonic drink on the first night. The remainder are still to be used, but I envisage freezing their juice and zest to be used in upcoming cakes (and maybe more vodka based drinks!). 

One lemon so far was used in a roast chicken dinner. I used it as part of a marinade for the butterflied chicken, which consisted of lemon, roasted garlic, garlic olive oil, regular olive oil, Moroccan seasoning and sumac. The rest of the lemons might join their limey citrus cousins in the freezer, to be used for future dishes. 

This packet of baby garlic was used several ways.  They were roasted in the oven, which made them creamy and sweet.  I added a few with a roasted butternut pumpkin and made soup, some made their way into the roast chicken marinade, and the remainder added punch to homemade chicken stock. 

The bananas were lovingly shared with hubby over a couple of breakfasts, and were sliced into cereal. 

So, what would you have made with these same pieces? 

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Pistachio Dining - Torrens' hidden gem

I just love that top class restaurants are scattered all over Canberra. Not just confined to major hotels, or foodie 'precincts', but they are also nestled in the suburbs. They are 'go to' places for families celebrating birthdays, graduations, catch ups, intimate dates. Its where the staff come to know you by name. They are the alternative to having to cook at home, and just the spot when you want to entertain.. without all the washing up. 

My recent outing had a two-fold reason. 
1. A friend's fiance was in town, and it was a great opportunity for a bunch of us to catch up, and
2. We had a 'killa' bottle of Clonakilla 2009 Shiraz Viognier rattling about in the pantry (as you do), just begging to be opened and shared. 

So, I tweeted a question out to the Canberra foodie sages, asking where was a good place to go that would do my Clonakilla justice. Thanks go to Richard Tuffin who recommended Pistachio Dining at the Torrens shops, and it didn't disappoint. The first thing you notice when walking into the restaurant is the size of it. Its a decent size space, but the tables and chairs have been spaced out, to give a relaxed feel. You don't feel crammed in at all. There are warm tones on the walls, nice dark carpet, dark furniture and candles on the tables. Oh, and complimentary pistachios of course to nibble. 

Days before I went, I studied the menu - as you do. Intrigued by a menu item called "Just Feed Me Please", which is a chef's selection of 4 courses (two entrees, a main, and a dessert) all for a mere $65. "Leave it up to Dave to choose your meal for you".  Being the adventurous foodie types, we opted for this, and left our dining in the hands of "Dave" being the chef David Keeley. Have a read of Dave's bio, to gain an understanding of how much cred he has tucked under his chef's belt. Aubergine, Sabayon, Courgette to name but a few. You get my drift.. this guy knows food, and knows how to run a restaurant.

Our Clonakilla was right at home here. On the menu, the wines are selected from the Canberra region, so another great reason to visit Pistachio Dining. 

Now, over to "Dave" and his chef's selection...

Our first entree consisted of two beautifully cooked scallops (yes they actually were 'cooked to perfection') sitting atop a wedge of pan fried chorizo. Tasty, with just a little heat from the chorizo, it was a great starter. 

Second entree was a lovely piece of salmon, pink in the middle but with fair dinkum wafer crunchy skin on a bed of shredded seaweed, asparagus, sesame seeds and a sweet soy based sauce. The salmon was delicate and the seaweed was salty and crunchy. 

Next up was the main. When we ordered, I asked if Dave could do us something that would pair well with the Shiraz. He didn't disappoint when this medium rare beef fillet dish arrived, on a warm tablet of slate. 

Of course, the Clonakilla. Shared between four red drinkers, we could have finished off another bottle, alas I had brought only the one. 

Final course for the night was dessert.  A bread and butter pudding with Bailey's ice cream, and pieces of banana that had been brulee'd. So good, that my friend ordered another serve, to which the staff obliged, and was surprisingly gratis. 

Lovely dinner, lovely restaurant, and great value for money. Leave it up to Dave to decide your meal and you won't be disappointed. 

Shop 3A, Torrens Place
Ph 6286 2966

Monday, 6 April 2015

Mmmm... Waffles

Our last trip to Sydney involved a scout around Peter's of Kensington. A multi level virtual treasure trove of all things kitchen, luggage, glass, cookware, gadgets, gifts... you name it they have it. Included in the pickings was a Christmas present for moi. 
Well, its better to get something you like, rather than something you don't. Voila... A waffle maker made its way back home.

I've used this lovely appliance a few times now, and each time it produces delicious fluffy waffles, in the shape of hearts.  

This weekend I had four ever ripening bananas sitting in the fruit bowl just begging to be made into something nice. They were waaaaay past the point of being a cereal topping, they were just too ripe. 

Two made their way into banana bread, which has been precision cut and now lives in a bag in the freezer. The ultimate way to ensure portion control!! The remaining two made their way into a waffle batter. 

My recipe was kinda thrown together, but it consisted of: 

250g plain flour
7g baking powder
15g caster sugar
A solid teaspoon of cinnamon
475ml of lite milk
2 eggs
2 small ripe bananas, and
a splash of vanilla extract

Mix the dry ingredients into a large bowl and set aside.  
In a second bowl, mash the bananas, beat in the eggs, stir through the milk and vanilla. 
Whisk the banana mix into the dry ingredients, until no stubborn lumps of flour remain. 
Apparently don't over whisk the mix, or the waffles will be sad and tough... or something like that :)  

Heat up the waffle maker, spray lightly with canned oil, and (for this model) pour in a 1/2 cup measure of the mix. Not a 3/4 cup measure like I first tried, that's waaaay too much and will drip out the sides. Stick to the plan and you'll have nice fluffy waffles, that aren't too thick or thin, and are cooked all the way through. 

After that, it pretty much became a production line.  
Spray > batter in > cook > open lid > remove new waffle onto rack.

Rinse and repeat.

I managed to make seven complete waffles. Hubby and I ate one for quality control purposes, and sadly one had an accident when emerging from the machine. I grabbed the edge with my fingers (instead of cradling it underneath) and half of it fell into the batter bowl. Oh well, I salvaged two 'hearts'. Two hearts are better than none. 

Saturday, 4 April 2015

In My Kitchen - April 2015

Welcome to my In My Kitchen (IMK) post for April. This fun series is hosted by the lovely Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial blog fame, and is loads of fun. Pop over to her blog and check out all the lovely IMK posts from kitchens all over the world. It takes me about a month to get through them all!

My post this month has a real local theme going.  Local in that everything is from Canberra and the surrounding district.

Firstly... I have locally made Little Monster Chocolate, made using orgainic fairtrade chocolate. It comes in a  small range of flavours, and I'm gonna take my time devouring these...

Raspberry jam, from Montrose Berry Farm, from Sutton Forest.

A mug that I have been eyeing for months, and finally spoilt myself. For those from Canberra, or who have spent any time here, you would recognize the iconic bus shelter. I think this mug is just fabulous! Its the brainchild of Trevor Dickinson.

Homegrown beetroot from my own veg patch, paired with a salad of the beetroot leaves, mixed greens, couscous, dates, pecans and pork tenderloin pieces.

The Fix Juice. This is the 'vital energy' juice. I'm not doing a juice cleanse, but wanted to try one.

Lastly, and not quite all local, but it was cooked in my kitchen. A rather wonky, but darn tasty bacon, leek and ricotta tart.

Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to drop me a comment. Have a great day! cheers, Kirsty