Monthly Archives: June 2015

Today’s Cake – Ricotta Cake

This recipe is based on the one in a beautiful cook book I bought recently called “Sharing Puglia”.  I changed it a little because, well, I can’t help myself but also I thought it had too much sugar, with the original recipe having 345g sugar for 500g ricotta, as well as candied fruit, which I’m not overly fond of.  I did slit the top as suggested but it still cracked so think I need a few more slits.  The liquor used is called Strega (which means ‘witch’ in Italian), one that Mamma Rosa uses in a lot of her sweets.  But you could probably also use brandy. Tip – I used Glad Go Between to roll out the dough – made it very easy.

330g of 00 flour
220g caster sugar
200g butter, cubed
4 egg yolks

1kg ricotta
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbps Strega

Icing sugar, for dusting

Making it
1. Place your ricotta in a fine sieve and put on top of a bowl, cover and put in the fridge to drain

2. Meanwhile, make the pastry. Place the flour and butter in a food processer and pulse till it forms a crumb. Add the sugar and pulse, then the eggs and continue pulsing till it starts to come together. Tip onto a benchtop or board, form into a disc then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

3. Grease a 19cm springform cake tin with butter. Cut off about a third of the pastry and set aside. Roll out the large portion of pastry into a large circle big enough to line the cake tin; gently place into the tin and press gently against the sides, cutting off any excess. Roll out the extra piece to form a circle matching the size of the tin for the lid. Refrigerate for at least an hour or until ready to bakericottacake (1)

4. Take your ricotta, still in the sieve, out of the fridge and sit for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 170 fan forced. Remove the ricotta from the sieve and place in a clean, dry bowl. Combine ricotta and sugar using a whisk or electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and combine. Pour the mixture into your cake tin, cover with the pastry lid pressing around the rim to seal, and then using a sharp knife put some slits in the top. Bake for about an hour ; if it starts to brown too quickly cover with foil. Allow to cool in the tin. Once cool remove from tin, dust with icing sugar and servericottacake (2)ricottacake (3)ricottacake (4)ricottacake (5)

Bowery Lane, Sydney CBD

bowery (6)Somewhat hidden in the foyer of an office block, Bowery Lane was a welcome addition in 2014 to a part of the CBD which until recently was a little deficient in good casual dining options. The interior is an interfusion of textures – a little concrete, some wood, some leather, exposed bricks – and you can start to drown out the office block surrounds. bowery (3)

Like the venue, the menu is a bit of a mixture too – appropriate since Bowery Lane is named after a street in Manhattan, itself is a melding of cultures and cuisine. For instance there’s a little Italian (burrata, carpaccio); pure NY diner (Reuben on rye, fried pickle), and some Asia (salt and pepper squid, Asian slaw).

The burgers are very popular, in particular the New York cheeseburger with wagyu, bois bordran, Monterey jack, tomato, cos lettuce and onion, served with fries. Considering a lot of the new takeaway burger joints are selling burgers for $10 with $5-$6 for the fries, at $18 this is pretty good value for a sit down table service meal.bowery (5)

I also recommend the tempura soft shell crab burger with Asian slaw; it comes with a delicious miso mayonnaisebowery (4)

On their Summer menu I was fond of the duck confit salad with green beans and duck liver parfaitbowery (1)

The breakfast menu also offers plenty of tempting options. The hotcakes look good (next time) but I tried the poached eggs with smashed avocado, quinoa and feta which was nicely donebowery (2)

There is a little counter out the front for takeaway coffee and breakfast treats, and at the back of the restaurant, salads and hot food for takeaway lunchbowery (7)

For groups there are banquet menus for $55 and $65

Bowery Lane, 1 O’Connell Street, Sydney, Ph 02 9252 8017
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Young Guns dinner @ LuMi Dining

The Young Guns series is a clever collaboration between four Italian restaurants and their four great chefs – Federico Zanellato (LuMi), Victor Moya (Ormeggio), Matteo Zamboni (Pilu), and Mitch Orr (ACME) – with hosts Alessandro Pavoni and Giovanni Pilu. Each restaurant is taking a turn at hosting a dinner and showcasing dishes. The degustation was $80, or $125 with matching wines, so it was a great value – and delicious – evening. There was an extra dish on offer for $10 which we readily agreed to.

First Course: LuMi “snacks”
Salt and vinegar rice chips – heavenly lightyoungguns (2)

Porcini Brisee with Marscapone and a Macaron with onion and chicken liver. Loved them both; the porcini brisee had a beautiful crumbly texture and was something new and different, as was the savoury macaron.youngguns (3)

Jerusalem artichoke chips – very clever. I love Jerusalem artichoke but would usually use it four puree or soupyoungguns (4)

And of course LuMi’s signature Chawanmushi. The last time I came here I had it with tomato water; this time it was with an onion consommé and a little caviar. The texture on that custard! I have to say that LuMi has been one of my favourite dining experiences so far this year and the meal that night reaffirmed it.youngguns (5)

This was followed by some warm delicious bread and grissiniyoungguns (6)

Second course: Ormeggio roasted capsicum and mozzarella salad with Mediterranean herbs. A feast for the eyes as well as the palate. The texture of the balls reminded me of the liquid gnocchi at Gastro Park. Very clever and freshyoungguns (7)

Third course: Pilu’s Cappelletti with lentils, red wine and vegetable broth. Zamboni explained to us that this dish was completely vegan, not something you find often in Italian cooking. It was an interesting dish and with each mouthful you could taste different elements of the flavour.youngguns (8)

Fourth course: ACME’s pig’s head with cime di rapa and condiments. Don’t think too much about the fact that you are eating a pig’s head and dig in! Loved the flavour combination here; rich juicy pork cut through with the bitterness of the rapa, and I particularly loved the soy and vinegar dipping sauce, which Mitch told us was actually based on a Filippino sauce.youngguns (9)

Fifth course (extra course): Lumi Burrata, honey, rosemary and vinegar meringue, served with casarau. Oh! This was a table favourite. Devine! What a combination! And then if you threw in some crispy bits of casarau, a specialty Sardinian crispy bread, it became even better. This could have passed as a dessert.youngguns (10)

youngguns (11)Sixth course: LuMi’s Yuzu with licorice and mandarin curd. The plate was freezing cold and Federico tells us that it has been put in the blast chiller at -25 degrees. This was wonderfully light and fresh with a good amount of acidity and those wafer like pieces of licorice adding texture.youngguns (12)

Some pictures of the Young Guns and hosts. Zanellato’s brother Riccardo is all boyish charm; Matteo is sweet and softly spoken and Giovanni Pilu is quick to point out that he is already married ladies! (there’s A Tea with the Queen next to Signore Pilu). I ask Mitch if he’s considered an honorary Italian – “I’m pure Inner West” – he tells us. Alessandro is as effervescent as always. A really great evening – there are two more Young Guns dinners in the series.youngguns (14)youngguns (1)youngguns (13)

LuMi Dining,

In My Kitchen, June 2015

I’m not a Winter girl, so it is with a little sadness I’m typing June.  Bring back Spring and Summer! Somehow, my rogue tomatoes I mentioned last month are still growing.  When I went to pick a bundle the plant was even still flowering – the tomato plant is clearly confused.  Here’s what has been going on in the Napoli kitchen.

In my kitchen you’ll find these cute little boxes my darling boys made me for Mother’s Day.  They suggested I keep them by the bed for my trinkets.

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My lovely husband got me this gorgeous orchid.imkjune (4)

In my kitchen you’ll find mandarins (and a few lemons), a sure sign that Winter is here.  These are from my father-in-law’s tree; over coming months there will be more bowls of mandarins than I know what to do with from various family members.  Mandarincello, anyone?imkjune (2)

A few people have asked about my starter.  This is what it looks like after it has been “fed” and is almost bubbly enough to make into a loaf of bread.  My starter, La Figlia, is the offspring of Celia’s starter Priscilla, that is eight or so years old.imkjune (1)

It makes some lovely airy sourdough loaves.  I make bread every Sunday these days.

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I had another go at making pasticciotti.  Little winners these are.  This time I got the custard perfect, and I’m getting better and shaping the pastry into the little moulds, which is a lot trickier than I thought.  Now I just have to get the timing exactly right on baking.imkjune (6)

The pasticciotti  are from a region in Italy called Puglia, which I really want to visit, so I couldn’t help buying this cookbook.  It is absolutely beautiful.  A lot of the recipes are “cucina povera” – poor kitchen – style, which is the kind of food I grew up with. I notice a lot of the recipes contain broccoli rabe, which you won’t find everywhere.  My father used to make us eat this slightly bitter vegetable growing up, as according to him, it “purifies your blood” (though he said that about all green leafy vegetables).imkjune (12)

I tried the ricotta cake recipe in the book, though I tweaked it a little as the sugar content seemed too high, and it contained candied fruit which I’m not too keen on.  I need to work on my pastry technique and I should have left it in the tin longer to set after cooking but the end result was incredibly delicious.  I’ll do a little more tweaking then post the recipe.imkjune (9)

imkjune (10)In my kitchen you’ll find tiny shaped pasta varieties from Molisana, another brand of pasta I like.  These are great for the soups I make mid week after work.imkjune (5)

One night  for dinner I made some tuna and quinoa patties.  The original recipe is from the beautiful food blog Chew Town.  Hers are Asian inspired; as I did not have coriander or ginger or a red onion handy, I just used parsley and spring onions.  I also used flour instead of almond meal.  Delicious.imkjune (3)

Making these reminded me of some other tuna patties the Marito always loved that I hadn’t made for ages, so I made them on the weekend.  These are with capsicum and potato and then crumbed before lightly frying.  I whipped up a batch of burger buns, recipe also courtesy of Celia, and we had some great burgers for dinner.  My subconscious must have been affected by all the burger pictures for International Burger Day.imkjune (8)

How’s your winter kitchen coming along?