Encasa, Lane Cove

Encasa in the CBD has long been a popular place for Spanish tapas and cured meats. Over the last year, owners Maria Barona and Francisco Rodriguez have expanded, opening two more city venues including an “express” takeaway in Chifley Plaza, and this cosy restaurant in their home turf of Lane Cove.  A couple of friends and I checked it out the other night, and were pleasantly surprised by the tasty, well priced food, and the added benefit of being able to BYO.  The staff were also very attentive and friendly.

There’s lots to tempt on the largely meat and seafood menu, though there are not too many options for vegetarians.  I’d love to see something like a ceviche or fresh fish dish added to the menu. Here’s what we tried

The jamon Iberico croquettes were delicious – crispy coating and gooey cheesey centre

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Scallops with a saffron cream sauce – a tasty smooth sauce and plump fresh scallops

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The tortilla de patata, a potato and onion omelette, didn’t look terribly exciting on the plate but delivered on flavour

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Sizzling prawns had a delicate hit of chilli and were also enjoyable

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I was looking forward to the beef cheek, and it was tender, but it didn’t pack the flavour punch of a similar dish I’ve had a few times at MoVida, and it could have used a bit more cauliflower puree.

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I really wanted to try the crema catalana for dessert but clearly so did everyone else as it was sold out! Next time.  I’m not big on churros as they remind me of donuts which I don’t like at all, but the girls were keen for a serve and I had a nibble – they were light and crispy.

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Banquet menus are available for groups of 8 or more priced between $42 and $55, and there’s a nice range of Spanish goodies you can buy to take home.  There’s a short kiddie menu too.

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Encasa Lane Cove, 132 Longueville Road, ph 02 9418 8577
https://encasa.com.au/landing-page/home-lane-cove-restaurant/

Encasa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Today’s cake – tomato cake

The Marito was fairly zealous with his tomato planting this year, and we had tomatoes everywhere.  Some months before I had filed away this recipe from Rosa’s Farm, it intrigued me, and finding myself with more summer tomatoes that I knew what to do with, it seemed the perfect time to try it.  The scent of chopping up the peeled tomatoes threw me straight back to childhood  – sitting in a garage with nonna, Mamma Rosa, zia, cousins and siblings, cutting tomatoes bobbing in enormous containers of water, ready to be pureed for passata before being bottled  with some basil, the bottle carefully wrapped in newspaper and boiled in a large vat.

The recipe didn’t specify  whether or not to remove the tomato seeds, so I did.  I also reduced the quantity of sultanas as it is not an ingredient I’m enamoured with.  I’d throw in some walnuts next time, they would work really well.   I almost dropped the darn thing flipping it so you’ll notice it’s a bit cracked at the top.

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The end result? I quite liked it, texturally soft and similar to eating other vegetable based cakes like a carrot cake or zucchini cake.

Ingredients
450g firm but ripe tomatoes
115g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
165g caster sugar
2 eggs
225g self raising flour
2 teaspoons mixed spice
50g sultanas

Making it

  1. Use a sharp knife to score a cross in the bottom of each tomato, place the tomatoes in a bowl and pour over some boiling water, enough to cover them, and leave for 1 minute.  Drain and then peel off the skin, remove the seeds and finely chop the remaining flesh.  Set aside in a bowl to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan forced and grease a 20cm tin, lining the base with baking paper.
  3. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition.  Gently fold in the flour, mixed spice and sultanas.  Strain the tomatoes gently then fold in to the batter.  Spoon into a prepared tin and cook for 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

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Burnt Orange, Mosman

You’ll find Burnt Orange in a pretty cottage amongst the trees at Middle Head in Mosman looking out over the water, so it is understandably very popular for breakfast and brunch.

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They have four morning sittings on a weekend for breakfast at staggered half our intervals starting from 8.30am with an hour and a half per sitting. We and our friends opted for the first one. The breakfast menu is pretty standard – eggs, bacon, pancakes and the like, and all quite well executed. The sourdough bread is delicious. Though we do ask for a fried egg for one of our Small People and are told “ah no, we can’t do that, it requires a different griddle and it’s too difficult”. Um, didn’t think a small fry pan would be all that hard really, or maybe fried eggs are taboo in Mosman, not sure which. And although we are the first sitting and it is not busy we need to chase our drinks, which arrive after our meals.

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I go for the breakfast board, which has a very nicely done confit of trout. But I find the Avoca brown bread extremely dry and dense so don’t eat it, and pinch some sourdough instead.

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Attached to the café is a retail shop with a variety of treasures. I raise my camera to take some snaps. “Oh, no, you’re not allowed to take photos here”. Ok. I’ll take them in the Louvre or the Vatican instead, they don’t seem to mind.

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Burnt Orange, 1109 Middle Head Road, Mosman, Ph 02 9969 1020
http://www.burntorange.com.au

Burnt Orange Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

In My Kitchen, February 2017

Welcome to the first In My Kitchen for 2017! IMK is a monthly link up hosted by Liz at Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things showcasing what is in blogger kitchens around the world.

Christmas feels like aeons ago.  The tree is gone, the decorations packed away, and Easter Eggs are already in the supermarket.   But a couple of Christmas gifts are being put good to use in my kitchen

The Small People bought me some new oven mitts, having noticed that my old ones were in tatters.  They are heavy duty and very good.

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I love these mugs that the Marito and I use for our daily coffee.   Maybe one day when we fix our falling down grand old lady of a house, it really will be a manor.

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I also received this delicious and thoughtful gift, which will be much enjoyed!

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It has now been just over a year that we moved here. It was too far into the summer last year when we moved in to plant anything but this year we’ve been all over it.

There’s been beautiful tomatoes

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Zucchini and flowers

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Cucumbers, eggplants and eggs from the girls

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Crispy cos lettuce, and figs I picked from our neighbours’ abundant tree (they didn’t even know they had a fig tree, its right down the bottom of the land, and don’t want them!)

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In my kitchen is miso paste that I bought at our local Japanese grocer; I’ve been making miso salmon and miso eggplant

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The Marito bought home a huge bag of mushrooms one day, I used some of it to make polenta with mushrooms, mostly following this recipe

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At the Italian deli recently I found this squid ink pasta by Molisana, who make good pasta.  I haven’t decided on a recipe yet.  Suggestions?

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I hope you are having a great month in your kitchen!

 

 

 

Trifle of poached pear, mascarpone and pistachio

Recently I bought a tray of Corella pears and I thought I’d turn them into a trifle.  I made it first thing in the morning to serve that evening, but even better make it the night before.  You’ll serve a good crowd of a dozen or more with this. The pear brandy I used was the German Weis, which is available in most bottle shops. Any left over syrup can be stored in the fridge and drizzled over ice cream or other fruit.

Poached pears
700g caster sugar
Thinly peeled rind of 1 orange
Thinly peeled rind and juice of 1 large lemon
2 cinnamon quills
2 star anise
1 vanilla bean split and seeds scraped
100ml Vin Santo or other dessert wine
10 small Corella pears, peeled, cored and quartered
2 tablespoons pear brandy

Combine sugar, rinds, lemon juice, spices, vanilla and 1 litre of water in a large enough pot, stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add the pears, cut a round of baking paper to fit the pot, place over the pears and weigh down with a plate and gently simmer until pears are tender (25 minutes or so). Remove pears from pot and set aside in a bowl.

Strain cooking liquid from the pot into a heavy based saucepan and simmer on medium high heat for about 40-45 minutes. Turn off the heat, add Vin Santo, stir, then allow to cool. Once cool mixture will thicken and should be a golden caramel coloured syrup. Stir in the pear brandy.

Mascarpone cream
500g mascarpone
2 tablespoons sifted icing sugar
2 egg yolks
350ml thickened cream
4 tablespoons pear brandy

Using at electric mixer, beat the eggs, icing sugar, mascarpone and brandy until combined. Add the cream and beat until thickened, be careful not to over whip.

Other ingredients
Half a packet or so of savoiardi biscuits
180g of natural pistachio nuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped or whole as desired

You’re now ready to assemble

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Assembly
Place a layer of savoiardi on the bottom of your trifle dish.  At the bottom of the reserved bowl of pears there should be a little juice – drizzle a couple of tablespoons over the savoiardi. Then drizzle over some of the caramel syrup. Next add a layer of pears, drizzle over a little more syrup and then sprinkle over a third of the pistachios.

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Then a layer of half the cream. Then again a layer of savoiardi, pear juice from bowl, syrup, pears, syrup, pistachios, cream and sprinkle remaining pistachios on top. Cover tightly with cling wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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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.

lycheegranita

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