Thursday, August 31, 2006

David Jones Food Hall

This "food hall" is in Sydney's best department store downtown. It is such a great place for a foodie like me! There is a noodle bar where chefs stir-fry any variety of noodles you'd like in front of you. There is a panini bar where you buy Italian, especially their homemade pasta. My favorite was the cheese and olive bar, where you can buy a plate of samples of their best cheese or olives or pate with a glass of wine. There's an excellent bakery and patisserie and deli and butcher, and 50 takeaway salads, or 50 hot meals to go, and a canape section for parties (see picture!). And you can't miss the chocolates- can you spot the penguins and snails in the picture? And a huge selection of specialty foods. Heaven.

The Food

Being gals from the country, we of course had to lug along our own home-baked rhubarb cake (thanks Lizza!) in a Georgia O'Keefe inspired cake tin with, count them, FOUR FLOWERS (ah yes we are aging but we can still be flowers can we not?)

My personal favorite meal was on Friday night. Tazza made a lovely homemade lasagne made with eggplant tomato sauce and gorgeous Italian ricotta, and I made a salad of spinach, roast sweet potato and marinated feta cheese.

And how about those gorgeous crema hearts on the coffees at the Strand?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Shopping

Surprisingly I did actually return to Canberra after a weekend of shopping, eating and laughing in Sydney. We went to two of my favorite shopping "arcades" ever: the Queen Victoria Building and the Strand. Both are old fashioned buildings with fantastic specialty shops (but, unfortunately, the prices are also fantastically high). The 'cakes' in the picture are actually soaps and body creams in Lush. The red plastic bowls and jewelry are at Dinosaur Designs which I'm sure you'd love, fauxcouture. I loved the dress shop with Japanese fabrics, and the Scandanavian clothing/natural brush (?) store Funkis. And in the left of the picture of the Strand (the multi-level shopping centre) you can see your classic hip young urban Aussies haha.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Hot mama weekend

I'm escaping with my girlfriends for the weekend. And what does a hot mama bring along food-wise for a decadent weekend in the big smoke?

Champagne (of course)
Chocolate (duh)
Hot mama mushrooms (sauteed with garlic, chilli, lemon, and lots of olive oil)
Persian feta marinated in EV olive oil and herbs
Moroccan carrot dip
Grilled eggplant dip with cashews and Parmesan
Turkish bread
Creamy dreamy vanilla yogurt, muesli and rockmelon for breakfast
Italian coffee
Twinings green tea

My contribution for dinner tonight is a salad made with English spinach, roasted sweet potatoes and walnuts. Tazza is making slow-cooked eggplant/tomato/capsicum pasta sauce which -- to her eggplant-despising-husband's dismay -- is part of her weekly menu after seeing it, yes, HERE folks.

Pumpkin and lentil soup

For this soup I soaked one cup red lentils and 1/2 cup brown lentils overnight (I don't always do this step). Then in the slow cooker I combined the rinsed lentils with 1 litre vegetable stock, half of a large pumpkin (chopped), and 4 onions sauteed with an Indian curry paste (Patak's Jalfrezi). I topped it up with boiling water and left it to cook all day. 1/2 hour before serving I added a 165-mL tin of coconut cream. Yum.

Tofu noodle soup

Buckwheat noodle soup made with chicken stock, vegies and tofu.

An ewok among us

Meet Clytie, our house guest this week. As you can see she's a really energetic and on-the-go visitor... hard to keep up with her... not. She has a great view from her bed so why leave? We have been volunteering to dog-sit because T is desperate to get a dog and we want him to understand the work involved. I've grown quite affectionate of her, even though she is a little odd in the looks department. fauxcouture, isn't your dog quite similar (if not as pudgy?)


I got a free sample of this Moroccan spice powder called chermoula in my latest delicious! magazine. I tossed some chicken tenderloins in it and baked them alongside red capsicum and whole garlic cloves. Served with brown rice and plain yogurt. The chicken was mildly spicy, with what tasted like cumin and coriander.

Cauliflower with cheese sauce

I've been obsessing about having cauliflower with cheese sauce for some reason and I ended up being the only one who ate it. For this dinner I also made teriyaki chicken drummettes and a plate of raw vegies.

Spinach pie

Is it just me? I have been having troubles logging on to all week. So here is the first of a backlog.

Spinach pie (mine as opposed to DH's), sauteed mushrooms, and pumpkin puree (leftover from making pumpkin cake earlier in the day).

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday shopping

I didn't buy only ribbon and paper mache pumpkins today.

Fruit: apples, oranges, brown pears, strawberries, lemons.

Vegies: pumpkin, spinach, cauliflower (I've been craving this with a white cheese sauce), sweet potato, brussel sprouts, celery, carrots, red capsicum, chat potatoes, green beans, mushrooms, shallots, cucumber, baby roma tomatoes, cos lettuce.

Lifetime supply of ribbon!

I've always wanted a paper mache pumpkin, and, well, now I have one. OK OK it never occurred to me that I would like one, but once I realised at the second-hand stall that it was filled with a lifetime supply of ribbon, it became a treasure! I imagine the pumpkin being crucial for Halloween or Thanksgiving.

But more importantly, do you have any craft ideas for all this ribbon? Surely T and A can make something wonderful with it.

Thursday dinner

Scrambled eggs, peas, toast and tomatoes with a little chopped onion and olive oil.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Wednesday dinner

Roast chicken and sweet potato with a technicolor salad. Canned pears and custard for dessert (are we ever going to use that stuff up?)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Splattered sushi

My daughter A has been requesting make-your-own-sushi this week and here you have it! I made sushi rice in the rice cooker. Alongside we have poached fresh salmon, mashed avocado, red capsicum, cucumber, pickled radish, pink ginger, wasabi in soy sauce, plain soy sauce and egg. A likes to roll them up inside seaweed. But I like scattered sushi... which my son T called splattered tonight... and I think that's a more accurate and evocative description!

The kids will have the leftovers tomorrow for lunch with a cute-as-pie little sachet of soy sauce purloined from a sushi shop.

Monday dinner

My audience (all two of you, and both Kentuckians to boot!) might be getting sick of these vegetable soups. But we really have been enjoying them this winter. They are so inexpensive, easy to make (chop vegies, and add to stock and lentils/soup mix, and cook all day), and delicious, especially with fresh breadmaker bread. This one used all the usual suspects (carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, 8-bean soup mix, corn, peas) plus a can of tomatoes.

For dessert I made baked apples stuffed with brown sugar, walnuts and raisins, with custard on the side. The apples kind of exploded in the oven but still tasted good.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sunday dinner

Braised tofu with teriyaki sauce and coriander; stir-fried broccoli, carrots and zucchini; and rice. For dessert, I made an easy chocolate sauce by microwaving leftover cream with some dark cooking chocolate until melted, and serving over vanilla ice cream.

Breakfast with friends

I went to Belluci's for breakfast this morning with my friends. Very delicious! Lizza ordered only tea, but took great pleasure in someone else making her a cuppa. Krizza had blintzes filled with ricotta and raisins, drizzled with a citrus sauce. Tazza and I had potato rosti topped with roasted tomatoes, spinach, ricotta and olive tapenade. Oh man, it was seriously good.

Dear Husband's birthday cake

I finally have found the birthday cake of my husband's dreams! He had it for breakfast the next day, a good sign. It is shown pictured on our special birthday cake plate, a gift from my grandmother. It was the plate on which all the birthday cakes of my mother's childhood were served.

I found the recipe in Nigella Lawson's cookbook Feasts, in the chapter titled 'Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame' -- 14 chocolate cakes, count them! I chose the Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake:

200 g plain flour
200 g sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
40 g cocoa
175 g softened butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
150 ml sour cream

Bring all ingredients to room temperature. Whizz in food processor. Bake for 25-35 minutes in 22 cm pan at 180oC until toothpick comes out clean.

How easy is that! Sorry to the Americans for the metric measurements. That is part of the ease of this recipe to me anyway... I put the food processor container straight on the scales, then rezero it after each addition.

Nigella suggests an icing made with the remaining sour cream and dark chocolate, but DH wants just real whipped cream. Shown below is the banana that he ate alongside as well. A gift from the kids, their idea and money. Bananas are still very expensive and rare... this one was $2 !

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thursday dinner

A champagne and Dijon mustard sauce sounds a little fancy for Thursday night... but what's a girl to do with flat leftover champagne? I substituted it for the white wine in my standby chicken dish (baked in a sauce of stock, wine, garlic, lemon, mustard and tomatoes). Served with roast potatoes and blanched snow peas and baby broccoli. The delectable skinny broccoli was grown in cousin Rachel's garden.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tuesday dinner

Leonie's recipe for rice pie made with yogurt, eggs, cheese, leftover brown rice, grated carrot and zucchini, spring onions and canned soy beans. Served with sauteed baby mushrooms and steamed green beans.

Family potluck dinner

We had extended family over for a potluck dinner on Saturday. I can only take credit for the the penne pasta with eggplant, red capsicum and basil sauce. Cousin Louise made a delicious lasagne. Cousin Sue is a master salad maker; she brought a fresh salad with raw beetroot and radishes and lettuce, and another with spinach, sweet potatoes, feta cheese and sunflower seeds. DH made a chocolate cake (I like this new tradition that he bakes cakes!) Aunt Jo brought bread and ice cream and a fruit salad, oh and her thumb, shown in the picture.

Spaghetti bolognese in the slow cooker

T and A's friends M and N came over for dinner, and thanks to some pre-dinner research by my son, I chose spaghetti bolognese for the menu. I decided to make it in the slow cooker for the first time. I cooked the beef mince and drained it. Separately I sauteed finely chopped onions, carrots, celery and red capsicum. I followed my 'traditional' cookbooks and first added a cup of wine, and let it fully evaporate, then 1/2 cup of milk, and let it evaporate. Especially the last bit sounded odd but it added a Parmesan-y flavour which I liked. Then I popped it into the slow cooker with a couple of cans of pureed tomato and cooked it all day. The sauce was very nice but I personally didn't like the very soft texture of the slow-cooked beef mince (I would have preferred that more firm). But it didn't seem to detract the kids who ate a huge helping. Sides were a green salad and blanched snow peas.