Osaka Trading Co, Tramsheds

Saturday night, booking in hand, the Marito and some friends and I headed to the recently opened Tramsheds re-development.  It’s well designed with a good variety of venues at various price points, where you could easily find yourself going regularly. There’s also a large supermarket, a nail bar, a barber and a bottle shop.  Some of the restaurants such as Fish & Co do takeaway, so you can sit in the casual eating area if you prefer this, as well as an area with pop ups that changes very frequently.

We headed for the modern Japanese eatery Osaka Trading Co which we all really enjoyed and would happily go to back to.  Service was friendly, if a little distracted given how busy they were, and we were pretty impressed with how a teeny kitchen churned out the food.

A refreshing cocktail and some edamame to start, and we were off.

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Our first dish was a special that night, prawn katsu, rather than the traditional pork katsu. Made with minced prawn, this was so delicious with crispy fresh lettuce and a mayonnaise.  We were tempted to order another round of it but we knew we had a lot more food coming.

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Loved the grilled Hokkaido scallops, served with sweet soy onion butter, a beautiful velvety sauce.

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The tempura zucchini flowers were the right amount of crispy but I wasn’t a big fan of the fish mousse inside

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The octopus, while tasty, was unfortunately a little chewy. The little cubes crisp potato were very morish.

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Also on the specials board that night was Hapuka fillet with buckwheat, shio koji (salted rice malt) and sorrel.  This was lovely, the fish was so delicate, and it would make a great individual main if you preferred that to sharing.

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The heirloom tomato salad came with yuzu kosho which is like a citrus chilli pepper and gave it a good kick.

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Last was wagyu tri-tip with Japone sauce which was so tender and so juicy. Beautifully cooked.

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The dessert menu was short, three desserts or so, but we opted to head over to Messina for a gelato, which was doing a roaring trade.

Osaka also have a banquet menu available for $50 per person.

We will certainly be back at Tramsheds (in fact we have already since this first visit, and the Small People have their eye on The Butcher and The Farmer for their birthday dinner), the thoughtful mix of venues and regularly changing pop ups ensures there is likely something to tempt everyone.

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Osaka Trading Co, Ph +61 2 8880 0717
http://www.osakatrading.com.au/

Osaka Trading Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lychee granita with mango, ice cream and mint

This very easy and lovely little recipe which appeared in Good Food just before Christmas is a perfect Summer refreshing dessert.  I personally prefer Kensington Pride mangoes, but you can use any variety you like. Serves four.

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Ingredients
Vanilla ice-cream
3 mangoes, peeled and diced
Handful of baby mint leaves
1 quantity lychee granita

For the lychee granita
560g tin lychees
30g castor sugar
1½ tsp fresh lime juice

Making it
1. Drain lychees, reserving the tin liquid, and purée in a whiz or food processor until very fine. Strain through a fine sieve into a 250ml cup measure; add liquid from tin to fill the cup.

2. In a small pot, gently heat sugar in 30ml water until dissolved. Allow to cool.

3. Combine purée, sugar syrup and lime juice to taste. Pour into a shallow metal container and place in the freezer. When almost frozen, scrape with a fork to create a fluffy texture then return to the freezer so that it is fully frozen.

4. Place a scoop of ice-cream in a chilled glass, then a spoonful of mango, a few mint leaves and a spoonful of granita. Repeat. Garnish with mint

1821, Sydney

I’m not going to talk about the significance of 1821 in Greek history, sorry.  It’s on a plaque on a wall in the restaurant if you want to read it.  I am going to talk about the great food David Tsirekas and his team are producing in the kitchen.

Some of the menu at 1821 has carried through from his days many years ago at rustic Perama in Petersham (which I visited quite a few times), where getting a table became difficult once the world spread; it then appeared at fine-dining-doesn’t-work-in-Australian-shopping-centres Xanthi.  He’s had various pop ups and gigs after that, but is now hopefully permanently housed in the somewhat in your face on Pitt St frontage at 1821.   Do take some friends because there is a lot you’ll want to try and the larger plate sizes are quite generous, and so are the desserts.

There was for me just one miss on the menu, which was the Greek San Choy Bow we started with – smashed roasted tomato with herb and vegetable rice in iceberg lettuce.  It was a bit messy and sloppy to eat, missing that distinctive SCB lettuce crunch.  All I could think of was the  Katering Show’s “hot wet rice” (if you haven’t seen this, you must, its bloody hilarious).  But it was onwards and upwards from here.

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The wild greens and leek pie  in filo pastry on a bed  eggplant purée reminded me of his Perama triangle but even better – the lightest, flakiest filo and a delicious greens filing.

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In my view the Greeks are the kings of cooking octopus, and this bbq octopus dish was no exception.  Beautifully tender and served with pickled cucumber & cauliflower and some taramasalata

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I absolutely adored the prawn manti (egg pasta dumplings, carrot purée, feta, candied  walnuts, burnt butter currant dressing, fried mint  leaves) and would gladly eat a dish or two of these on my own.  So much flavour!  As my Greek friend with us said, “I have no idea what is Greek about this dish, but it’s damn good”.

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The sweet and savoury combination in the pork belly baklava is pulled off, and the crackling is extra crunchy

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As well as octopus, lamb is another protein where Greeks show culinary skill.  The bbq lamb shoulder is tender and tasty; it is generous enough for four to share if you are trying a few other dishes.

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The baklava ice cream I remembered well from Xanthi and we had to order it. Yum.  It is not as sweet as actual baklava and I love the crunch of the pistachio.

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The garden of aphrodite – a sheep yoghurt panna cotta with seasonal fruit – is pretty but I don’t love it.  It is served with pieces of walnut cake which I find a little dry.

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The real surprise comes with the custard filo pie.  It is to die for, I would love the recipe for this. I gather its a take on the Greek bougatsa.  Once again, incredible flaky filo and filled with a luscious creamy vanilla semolina.

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There is also a banquet menu available for groups.

1821, 122 Pitt St, Sydney, Ph +61 2 8080 7070
http://www.universalhotels.com.au/1821restaurant/

1821 Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

My sugar free granola

A new year has rolled round and with that comes the usual spate of resolutions.  Eat less, exercise more, read something vaguely intelligent, buy less stuff and so on.  On the eat less front, sugar is something we are told should be high on the list.  Fats are not necessarily the enemy we thought, but sugar is.   One of the worst sugar culprits is often breakfast cereals, granola among them – have a look at sugar content in the supermarket and you’ll be surprised – even though we think it is ‘healthy’.

I love the texture and crunch of granola, but I’m not that keen on the sweetness.  In the pre-made ones, even if there is no added sugar, there is almost always maple syrup or honey which I don’t particularly fancy, I’d prefer to get my sweetness from fresh fruit.  After a couple of trials I came up with this version, which you could almost call savoury granola. I soaked the nuts overnight because I found they burn otherwise and taste unpleasant. You can probably use any nuts you like. The egg white is optional, but if you like “clumps” in your granola, this is an easy way to achieve it.

Ingredients
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight and drained
1/3 cup raw macadamia nuts, soaked overnight and drained
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Ground spices of your choice (I used nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 egg white, whipped to soft peaks (optional)

Making it
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. Place the oats, nuts, and seeds in a bowl. Add the vanilla, spices, and coconut oil and stir well so that everything is coated. Add the egg white and combine. Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper and spread in a layer, and bake for about 30-35 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before placing in an airtight container and store in the fridge. Its then ready to eat any time, either with milk or yoghurt and fresh fruit, or as is as a snack.

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Food highlights 2016

This year simple ruled.  The dishes I remember and liked most were unfussy and just plain tasty.

For instance I loved this Schiacciatella at Sud in Concord.  A very simple pizza crust with a tomato base, cherry tomatoes and a sprinkling of oregano, served with olive tapenade and pesto.

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Also brilliantly simple was the asparagus triangoli from Fred’s

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The baked mash at Bouche on Bridge was silky and well seasoned, I could have easily demolished the whole bowl, but I didn’t want to look like a greedy guts!

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And the roast short rib from Ho Lee Fook in Hong Kong, sooooo tender

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On the sweet front, the almond croissant from Lune in Melbourne was spectacular, best I’ve had.

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And the vanilla masalada from Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu, for $1.50, was a total winner.

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And finally – the dessert trolley at Bistro Guillaume full of good old French classics was a sight to behold

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And my favourite recipes I made this year?

This crispy potato roast has very few ingredients but looks and tastes fabulous and will be making an appearance on the Christmas table

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Similarly, this roast capsicum dish is so easy, and great if you have a table of shared dishes

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Also on the vegetarian front is this zucchini and spinach pasta, which I make regularly

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These sweet ricotta fritters are gorgeous and it was one of my most popular posts of 2016

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I’ve perfected Mamma Rosa’s almond bread, I was very pleased with my Christmas batch

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So that’s a wrap for another year.  Thanks to all of those who read and comment! I wish you all a lovely and peaceful festive season, and see you in 2017!

 

 

 

Roasted salmon and beetroot

This lovely and simple recipe comes courtesy of Curtis Stone’s Good Food, Good Life cookbook. In it he calls for golden beetroot, but I don’t come across them much so went for the standard red variety; I used the thinnest setting on my mandoline (0.75mm) for slicing.  He also suggests using one large 750g salmon fillet, which I tried the first time I made it, and while this looks nicer from a presentation perspective, it is easier to get an even cooking result with individual portions.  The tarragon is lovely, it is not a herb I use much, and I forgot how fragrant it is.  A nice green salad would go well on the side. Serves four.

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Ingredients
4 medium beetroot (about 500g) scrubbed and very thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 individual salmon fillet portions
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh chives
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon

Making it
1. Preheat oven to 230 degrees and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Toss the beetroot with 1 tablespoon of the oil, season, and lay on the baking tray slightly overlapping. Roast for 20 minutes and remove from oven

3. Place the salmon on top of the beetroot, brush with olive oil and season. In a small bowl combine the herbs and then sprinkle over the salmon. Return to the oven for about 15 minutes or until salmon cooked to medium rare (should be pink in the centre). Remove from the oven and serve.

In my Christmas kitchen, December 2016

‘Twas three weeks before Christmas, and in the Napoli house,
the KitchenAid was stirring, much faster than a mouse.
Pretty boxes were laid with paper doillies with care,
Wouldn’t St Nicholas have a feast if he arrived there.

I think St Nicholas would be pretty delighted if he stumbled into my kitchen in the midst of my frenzy of Christmas sweet making in my kitchen. At this time of year, I love to make biscuits and sweets to give to friends, the boys’ school teachers, work colleagues, and clients. It is even more fun hand delivering them.

This weekend’s haul included crostoli, recipe here

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Some moreish little whiskey biscuits, recipe here

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Almond bread, which turned out particularly fantastic, I had to put it quickly in boxes before I ate it all, recipe here

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And some pistachio biscotti, recipe here.

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After that I needed to sit down for a bit.

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Fortunately, with all the eggs I needed, our chooks have been going great guns, each of them laying every single day for the last ten days or so.  One of the girls (my bet is on Lily), has been laying some whopper eggs.  We were pretty impressed with this 88 grammer a week ago

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But then, last Friday morning out of the nesting box came this one, 105 grams! I liken this to giving birth to a 14 pound baby, and I’m surprised whoever laid it didn’t sit down for a week to recover. But no, she laid the next day too.

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Here is the Monster Egg as we called it pictured next to a 70 gram egg, which is considered “extra large” in the supermarket.  It is exactly fifty percent more in weight. And here it is in my hand, to give you a feel. I’m hoping this means the girls are happy!

I hope you are having a lovely December in your corner of the world.  Have a peak at other kitchens in the In My Kitchen series, hosted by Lovely Liz at Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things.

Buon Natale from the Napoli Household.