Whiskey biscuits

I tore this recipe out of an issue of now defunct SBS Feast magazine to make one day, and today was that day. Such a shame they discontinued it, it was one of my favourite food magazines. If you don’t want to use whiskey, vanilla would also work or I think coffee would be nice. Very easy.

whiskey biscuits

Ingredients
120g unsalted butter, softened
55g caster sugar
2 teaspoons whiskey
1/2 teaspoon salt
120g crumbled walnuts
150g plain flour
Icing sugar, for dusting


Making it

1. Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius
2. Cream the butter, sugar, whiskey and salt on low speed using a paddle attachment for 5 or so minutes, until pale and fluffy
3. Carefully fold in the walnuts and flour
4. Using a dessert spoon, gently shape into small balls. I ended up with 30 or so. Very gently flatten and put in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden
5. Allow to cool and dust with icing sugar

Guillaume, Paddington

This is a French restaurant for grown-ups. You won’t see any maman’s urging their petite filles to eat their haricot verts here. Guillaume Brahimi may have lost his iconic Opera House home, but he’s moved into a bijou little terrace in Paddington, with its plush carpets, thick white table cloths, and quietly gliding waiters.

We’re here with some good friends and decide to splurge on the degustation menu.   The dishes range from just good to knock-it-out-of-the-park and we come away happy and sated. I will be back, but next time will quite happily do a la’ carte – I have my eye on the duck.  The service was excellent from the moment we arrived till the moment we left – they even held open the doors of our taxi for us. Given plenty of decadent ingredients and the intimacy of the setting its an ideal place for a special occasion dinner. Personally I thought it was better than the original venue all round.

My photos aren’t the best – bring back daylight savings!

We start with an amuse bouche of salmon with lemon, fennel and wasabi. Tangy, fresh, flavoursome.

guilluame (1)

The first course of the degustation is the scampi, but we ask if they wouldn’t mind giving two of us the tuna from the a la’ carte menu, and two of us the scampi so we can try both. They kindly oblige. And I’m so glad about that because the yellowfin tuna is one of the knock out dishes, no surprise it’s a signature.guilluame (2)

The scampi with cucumber, chili, croutons, peach, shiso & Ocean Trout Roe.  The scampi are beautiful but I find the dish sweetened too much by the peach.guilluame (1b)

Royale of Peas with truffle and mud crab – creamy and decadent.  Love the Mother of Pearl spoon!guilluame (3)

Marron with pork cheek, radish, cauliflower, sea sprayguilluame (4)

Patagonian toothfish, peas, onion confit, speck, chicken jus, béarnaise.  I adored this dish, loveliest fish dish I’ve had in a long time….guilluame (5)

….and even better with a dollop of bernaise on top!guilluame (6)

Oxtail with carrot, bone marrow, parsley guilluame (7)

Melt in the mouth wagyu and silky mash
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Meanwhile, Marito Vegacquarian has a pasta dish followed by a luxurious lobster risotto.  We informed them of his dietary situation at the time of booking and checked in one of the lovely staff on the night.  “Don’t you mean Pescatarian?” she says.  “No, I think Vegacquarian works”.  “Yes, yours is better, I’m going with it”.guilluame (8)

Our “pre-dessert” – mango with lychee and coconut – such a feather light cream combined with two of my favourite fruits.  Would have loved a big bowl of this. guilluame (10)

The main dessert is passionfruit soufflé crème anglaise, passionfruit and banana sorbet.  I’m not a soufflé chick, so can’t really opine here, but I would have happily taken a big bowl full of that crème anglaise. guilluame (11)

And in that lovely touch also seen at Vue De Monde, you get a goody bag to take home. Ooh la la! Its a lovely brioche and jam for breakfast.  One of my little men, who has a discerning palate, spread some of the jam on his toasted home made bread the next day.  “Is this professionally made”, he queried, “its much better than what we usually get”.  The cheek.guilluame (12)

The restaurant also offers a private dining room that can accommodate up to 14 people.

Guillaume, 92 Hargrave St, Paddington Ph 02 9302 5222
http://www.guillaumes.com.au/

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Ironwood Coffee Company and Cafe, Woolwich

ironwood (10)It was time for a another Girl Crew & Mamma Rosa gathering, so we decided to check out the new kid on the Woolwich peninsula. Ironwood has moved into the space where Koi used to be, and by the looks of it, the new kid is pretty popular. We visited two weeks after opening and it was full and buzzing, a happy, relaxed casual place where you’d be happy to sit and read the paper on a lazy Sunday. It’s a bit of a “something for everyone” café menu, with burgers, salads, pasta and pizzas, going on, but there is a big Greek influence with haloumi, spanakopita, prawns saganaki and the like on offer. Most places don’t pull it off with such a broad spectrum of dishes, but they do a pretty solid job of it. Kids meals are $12 and include a drink and a scoop of ice cream which is great value. Service was a little haphazard that day but I figure they are still finding their feet in the first fortnight so will cut them some slack. Will certainly be back to try their breakfast menu (and the coffee!).

Some of what we tried that day:

Stuffed zucchini flowersironwood (4)

Haloumi with dried figironwood (5)

Slow braised octopus – meltingly tender but a little saltyironwood (6)

Beetroot and goat’s cheese saladironwood (7)

Mixed seafood plate. The soft shell crab was a bit oily and soggy, but the other components were goodironwood (8)

Mixed meat plate with some nice lambironwood (9)

Kids fish and chipsironwood (3)ironwood (2)ironwood (1)

Ironwood Coffee Company and Café, 102 Woolwich Rd Woolwich, Ph 02 9879 7770
http://www.ironwoodcoffee.com.au/

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Baked ricotta stuffed eggplant rolls

The Marito bought home some huge eggplants the other day, and I knew they’d be perfect for this dish, which I’ve been making him for years.  Using my trusty mandolin with the 7mm insert and slicing lengthways, I got about 20 slices from two eggplant and fit 16 or so rolls in my baking dish. I chargrilled them on a grill plate on the stove top, you could also do them on the barbecue or a George Foreman.  The spinach is optional, but I like to throw some greens in where I can, and you could also use silverbeet or kale.  You can add more or less cheese to taste.

stuffedeggplant2

Ingredients
16 slices chargrilled eggplant
500g ricotta, well drained
100g grated parmesan
1 egg, lightly beaten
50g baby spinach, coarsely chopped
500ml plain tomato pasta sauce
100-150g mozzarella, grated or thinly sliced
salt and pepper
basil to garnish

Making it
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
2. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, spinach, parmesan and season with salt and pepper
3. Lay out the eggplant slices, place a heaped tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on each slice, and roll one by one. Place the rolls in a baking dish – here they are almost ready to go –stuffedeggplant
4. Top with the sauce, then the mozzarella, and bake for about 30 minutes. Garnish with basil and serve with a salad or green vegetables of your choice

In My Kitchen, April 2015

I can’t believe this is post number 200. When a friend at work started this blog for me back in October 2012 (which is just as well, as I had no idea what to do), I never knew where it would go. At first it was just an easy way to direct people who often asked what I thought of various restaurants or if I had some suggestions for a group venue or special occasion. But I’ve really enjoyed putting recipes on here as well, and I now often find its quicker to check them here than trawling through my notebooks and cookbooks. I’ve also discovered lots of other blogs that I never would have otherwise, and made some blog-friends, some who I’m sure I’ll meet along the way, and others I will just have to wonder about. I am totally chuffed when someone tells me they tried one of my recipes, like a Japanese friend who made the very traditional Italian zucchini fritters; or another who went to visit someone on the Sunshine Coast and found the trifle I had once made waiting for her there, her friend had seen the recipe on my blog. My gorgeous boys always find it hilarious to try and photo bomb the food pics, but I hope one day they will look at this and remember things that mummy used to make or places we visited together.

One of the things I’ve really grown to enjoy is putting together the monthly In My Kitchen posts, which the big hearted Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial hosts each month. Its a wonderful look into kitchens around the world. Here’s what you’ll find in the Napoli kitchen of late.

Some beautiful Don Antonio pasta from Salt Meats Cheese. I loved this place when I first visited back in January 2013; they’ve expanded a lot since then, not only selling lots of kitchen goodies, but now serving up some hearty Italian food ready to eat and running a variety of cooking classes. This pasta is real artisan pasta made “al bronzo” – which means that the pasta dough is extruded through bronze shapes. It has a beautiful texture and I noticed “holds” the sauce well.imkapril (1)

With the spirals one Sunday I made one of Il Marito’s favourites – pasta forno, or baked pasta. This version has cubes of eggplant, mozzarella, and peas. I diced the eggplant first, coated it in flour and lightly fried it. Cook up some plain tomato pasta sauce, cook your pasta al dente, then toss them all together (I also usually beat up a couple of eggs and toss it through so it all holds) and then bake. It can then be sliced up like lasagne. For the non vegacquarians, you could add cubes of leg ham or prosciutto.imkapril (2)

On another night it was a quick mid week dinner with the spaghetti, I lightly cooked some spring onions, cherry tomatoes and tuna, tossed in the spaghetti and some parmesan and basil. This is something I can have on the table in ten or so minutes and is delicious if you have some good quality tuna on hand.imkapril (4)

I had these lovely Sicilian tuna fillets, which you’ll also find at Salt Meats Cheese. It is made in Sicily; the other brand I like is Callipo which is from Calabria.imkapril (3)

In my kitchen you’ll find a turkey (well not any more). Last year after Christmas Eve mass, we went up to Thomas Dux to get a few last minute things, and this one lone turkey was sitting there. It was an organic one too, and 70% off. I put it in the freezer and recently turkey craving hit so I decided to cook it for me and my boys one Saturday night. It was only a “little” turkey – 3 kilos, compared to the usual 5 kilo plus birds we have at Christmas, so it cooked in an hour and forty minutes or so. Delicious. Having leftover turkey the next day made it feel like Boxing day.imkapril (5)

Every Sunday morning in my kitchen there is homemade sourdough bread that I make using my starter La Figlia, daughter of Celia’s starter Priscilla. With three hungry males in the house, there’s been a supply-demand imbalance of late, so I used 1.5kg of flour this time and made three loaves instead of my usual one kilo and two loaves. We’ve stopped buying sliced bread.imkapril (10)

I also made some sourdough pancakes that were quickly consumed.imkapril (9)

I dehydrated some of my starter following Celia’s instructions to have as a back up just in case I forget to feed La Figlia or kill her off some how. The silicon mats are from Daiso.imkapril (7)

After it was dry, I blitzed it in my mini whizz and sealed it using my recently bought vacuum sealer. Now I have La Nipote, granddaughter of Priscilla.imkapril (8)

In my kitchen you’ll find dragonfruit. I love it and don’t see it often, but have come across it in a couple of grocers recently. Whenever I am travelling in Asia I gorge on dragonfruit, mangosteen and rambutans – yum!imkapril (6)

In my kitchen you’ll find semolina and a few other things I picked up at the Oriental and Continental Food warehouse in Artarmon (pictures on my Facebook page).  My mother-in-law put me on to this place years ago.  There is every manner of nuts, unusual flours, spices, oils, as well as catering stuff.  A lot of it is bulk size as they are a wholesaler, but there are a variety of products in smaller quantities. It is hard to find both coarse and fine semolina, so I always buy it here, and at $2.50 per kilo, its a bargain.imkapril

Of course, having just celebrated Easter, in my kitchen has quite a lot of chocolate!imkapril (13)

And a beautiful “cuzzupa”, a traditional Italian Easter bread, made for us by a lovely friend.imkapril (12)

And finally in my kitchen are two pear frangipane cakes, care of Francesca’s recipe at Almost Italian, waiting to be dusted with icing sugar. I made these on Easter Sunday to take to my in laws and my parents, something sweet – other than chocolate – but not too heavy to share  after a lovely meal.

imkapril (11)

Billy Kwong, Potts Point

You get a prize at Billy Kwong if you can read Kylie’s specials menu. Actually no you don’t, but you should get a free dessert or something if you can decipher it all. I almost made it, our friendly waitress intervened and helped out, but my main concern was checking that Kylie’s signature duck with blood plums was on there somewhere.billykwong (1)

If you haven’t heard, Billy Kwong has moved to Macleay Street in Potts Point, seating triple or so what the Crown Street site did – and – woohoo – it now takes bookings, no more queuing or waiting at any nearby dodgy drinking establishments to get a call after you put your name down on the list. Those uncomfortable stools are gone as well (they seem to have been donated to Hamish at Bar H?).

There is a long long long bar counter that spans the large kitchen, which is great if you want to eat solo or as a pair, and I reckon the staff easily clock up their required daily FitBit miles walking the length of that counter a few times.

There were six of us and we opted for a la’ carte, but there is a “Kylie’s banquet” for $75 where they choose the dishes. I didn’t realise till I went through the photos just how much we ate – we gave that menu a good nudge!  I know that some people will say that you pay overs for Chinese here, but remember that everything in the restaurant is organic where possible, and all the seafood sustainably sourced.

Steamed mini steamed pork buns with Rooftop Honey. Mmmmmm. The Rooftop Honey comes from the beehives on the roof of the Wayside Chapel made by the homeless – Kylie has always been generous about helping those in need.billykwong (3)

Steamed Sydney Rock Oysters – simple and deliciousbillykwong (4)

Sung Choi Bao of Pork, Ginger and Mushrooms. This was probably the only slightly disappointing dish, it just didn’t have the zing and flavour of the others.billykwong (12)

Rice Noodle Rolls with Braised Beef Brisket, Black Bean and Chilli. These were a table fave, I was secretly hoping that someone would temporarily turn vegetarian so I could have two.billykwong (5)

Steamed Fish Fillet with Ginger, Spring Onions and Shiro Soyu – a classic Chinese dish well executed.billykwong (10)

Dry-fried Green Beans with Miso, Chilli and Sesame Seeds. I ordered these because I felt we should have some green vegetables, and they were really good!billykwong (9)

Crispy Skin Duck with Orange and Davidsons plum. This dish has been on the menu since the beginning I think.billykwong (8)

Deep Fried Fish Wings in Young Henry’s Pearl Ale. Something a little different and good flavour and texturebillykwong (6)

Cantonese style Fried Rice. A good pepper hit in here or some other spice?billykwong (7)

Ginger soy pannacotta. Everyone claimed to be too full for dessert so only two of us ordered one. However once everyone tried a spoon full there was almost some fighting at the table. Really smooth and a subtle ginger flavour. The Chinese may have claimed they were the first ones to invent noodles and pasta, but the Italians have one up on the pannacotta stakes!billykwong (11)

billykwong (2)Billy Kwong, 28 Macleay St, Potts Point, Ph (02) 9332 3300
http://www.billykwong.com.au/

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The Apollo, Potts Point

When The Apollo opened three odd years ago, it was hot hot hot. And it still is – totally buzzing on a weeknight, with most tables booked for two seatings. Jonathan Barthelmess continues to put some great modern Greek on the table, that a Yia-Yia would concede is worthy, even if it’s not the way her mother taught her in the village. I’m here with the gal pals from work, and we opt for the $55 banquet menu which leaves us rolling out of there, and the staff have kindly packed up the extras for us to take home.

We start with some fat, juicy olives, tangy taramasalata dip, and some delicious pita.The Apollo (1)

Then comes the sizzling saganaki cheese with oregano and honeyThe Apollo (2)

No Greek banquet is complete without a classic Greek saladThe Apollo (3)

Next is one of the stars of the night, a melt in your mouth delicious lamb shoulderThe Apollo (4)

Followed by some of the best roast potatoes I’ve ever hadThe Apollo (5)

And their roast chicken, deliciously flavoured but a little drier than the last time I had itThe Apollo (6)

We finish with a desert of walnuts, filo pastry and coffee cream, a bit of a modern spin on baklava. I find it slightly on the dry side but love the coffee cream.The Apollo (7)

The Apollo, 44 Macleay St Potts Point, Ph 02 8354 0888
http://www.theapollo.com.au

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