Monthly Archives: January 2016

George’s Cabbage Salad

After a recent great evening with George Calombaris, I received a copy of his new cook book, Greek.  It is a truly stunning book visually, with some great recipes. I love the line in the introduction: “if you’re not in the mood to cook, if you’re just not feeling it, don’t do it.  Just read the book and enjoy the pictures, then come back when you’re ready.”

This recipe is the cabbage salad he serves at Jimmy Grants. If you can’t find the Greek cheese, pecorino (which is more readily available) is a possible substitute. It is a lovely fresh crisp salad, though next time I will use my mandolin rather than a knife to get the cabbage finer.

cabbage salad

1/4 red cabbage, very finely shredded
1/4 drumhead cabbage, very finely shredded
2 tablespoons dill springs
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
2 French eschallots, finely sliced
100g kefalograviera cheese

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
185ml extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper

To make the dressing, whisk the balsamic and honey until the honey has dissolved, then whisk in the mustard and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper

Toss together the cabbage, eschallots, herbs and dressing. Season and transfer to a serving dish. Grate the cheese over the top and serve

Long Chim, Perth

Michelin Starred David Thomson – whose Bangkok restaurant Nahm has featured in the world’s top 50 list – marked his long awaited return to Australia with the opening of street food inspired Long Chim in Perth in December 2015. Perth? Yes, perhaps he is trying to help them get over the death of the mining boom, though plans for a Sydney arm are apparently underway (hopefully this is what he was working on that night, as he was frequently checking his laptop in between walking around the restaurant and the kitchen).

Long Chim can be found in the new Cathedral Square precinct; the state buildings, after years of being abandoned, have been bought to life with stunning effect – the hotel features some beautiful rooms – currently with mining boom prices, these may need adjustment – and a few restaurants and bars including Petition, Wildflower and Post. As you walk down the corridor you can see these venues in action, all bustling and busy with Christmas cheer. Head to the basement and you’ll find Long Chim, with its street art walls and shelves of Asian groceries. It has only been open a few days when we try it and already service is quite smooth and the staff attentive.

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We opt for a banquet which is a great way to try lots of dishes. We start with dried prawns with ginger, toasted coconut in betel leaves. These have flavour and texture and are a hit at the table.

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The beef skewers (with cumin coriander and turmeric) are absolutely delicious and you can imagine eating them on the street in Bangkok

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But I find the next dish, crunchy prawn with herbs, shallots & chillies a bit on the bland side, for me its missing something.

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The Chiang Mai chicken larp more than delivers on the promised kick and I’m a fan, but find that cabbage leaves are too thick for it and it gets lost inside


The glass noodle salad with minced pork, prawns and squid is beautifully done, fresh and light.

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The banquet curry that night is the red curry of roast duck with coconut, thai basil, and kaffir lime leaves. It is fragrant and flavoursome, but I almost wonder if they forgot to put the duck in, so small is the amount of meat.

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Tasty sun dried king fish follows, and I love the accompanying lemongrass fish sauce

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One of the cheesiest sayings of all time has got to be “the simplest things in life are often the best”, but I have to rip it out for the next dish. It’s a simple Siamese stir fried watercress and turns out to be one of the best plates of the night

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The prawn and pork soup is pungent and full bodied.

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We finish with a generous individual dessert, some delicious coffee ice cream with crispy sesame seed wafers. I’m a sucker for good ice cream.

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Five days in and overall it’s a pretty impressive line up, I’m sure a few tweaks and improvements will happen along the way. David, Sydney CBD awaits.

Long Chim Perth, Basement, Barrack St & St Georges Terrace, Perth Ph (08) 6168 7780

Long Chim Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Neverfail pizza dough

I don’t have Mamma Rosa’s knack for making pizza dough. She does it by look and feel, and it always results in light, tasty dough. Me, I’ve had to resort to recipe books, and I’ve tried several over the years.  But this recipe from The Italian Baker by Carol Field consistently produces a great result. This wonderful book (thanks to Francesca from Almost Italian who put me onto it) first published in 1985 and since updated, is meticulous in its detail, the result of years of travel and research in Italy. For pretty much every recipe, she gives you the method whether you are making it by hand, with a stand mixer, or with a food processor. Below is the pizza dough method for a stand mixer (I love the dough hook of my KitchenAid, use it all the time), and I have doubled the original quantities in the book. This will give you 4-5 family sized pizzas, depending on how thick you like your base to be.

10g dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
640g tepid water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1kg plain flour
15g salt

Making it
1. In your stand mixer bowl, stir the yeast, sugar and water and let stand for 5 or so minutes until foamy. Add the oil and stir with the paddle attachment to combine
2. Mix the flour and the salt and then add to the yeast mixture. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until just combined
3. Change to dough hook and knead until soft and satiny for 3-5 minutes. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes – 1 hour.

4. Divide your dough according to how many pizza trays you are using, and grease the pizza trays with olive oil. You can use a rolling pin to shape your pizzas, but I find this dough very pliable, so I stretch it gently on the trays by hand. Leave in the trays to rise for 25-30 minutes. Then top as desired.
5. Preheat oven to 230 degrees Celsius and cook for 20-25 minutes until crust is golden (I always check if the base is cooked by lifting it slightly from the tray and looking at the colour underneath).

Neverfail tomato pizza sauce
A friend of mine is a pizzaiolo in Italy, and when he was in Australia some years back he told me you should never cook your tomato sauce for your pizza. I also went to a pizza class with a chef John Lanzafame who had won a prize at the world pizza titles one year, and he said the same thing. For several years now I have used this sauce for my pizzas – it takes 30 seconds to make and works beautifully.

1 can peeled tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon oregano flakes

Combine the above ingredients, blitz with a stick blender. That’s it. Spread over your pizza bases.  This makes plenty of sauce for the dough quantity above.  In Summer,  you could also use fresh very ripe tomatoes that have been peeled and had seeds removed.

Two favourite pizza toppings in our house – a very simple bocconcini & basil, and mushroom. Buon appetito!



Annata, Crows Nest

The original thinking behind recently opened Annata was that it would be a wine and cocktail bar that served a bit of food. But you could also look at it as a place with great food, that serves some good wine. With some heavily hatted experience behind the bar and in the kitchen – its a meeting of minds with skills gained from Rockpool, Bridge Room, and Café Paci – Annata lifts the bar on the lower north shore. The staff who looked after us that night were friendly, enthusiastic and knew their stuff – it seemed like they were really happy to be there.

The well thought out wine list is good fun, with sections like The Funky Bunch, The Big Boys, and CBA (Chardonnay Back Again). There are also some clever cocktails. I tried the Heather & Stone (Jasmine Jamieson, Pistachio, Suze, Lime, Whites) which had a delicious almost biscuit of pistachio in it (petit four in a cocktail, yeh!); and the Dipolmat (Havana 3, Apricot Jam, Orgeat, Cardamom, Bitters).

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There are four of us and the staff recommend we share, kindly suggesting which dishes we double up on. We start with some superbly fresh Sydney Rock oysters served with pickled black fungus

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We spot zucchini flowers on the menu – with broccolini, goats milk custard, black garlic and fennel salt – and know it’s a given they’ll be ordered. In our minds we’d pictured them in typical stuffed format, but it’s a ‘deconstructed’ version. The broccolini add texture and the custard is silky smooth.

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Next is a dish almost too pretty to eat – plums with heirloom tomatoes, smoked avocado (oh so good, smoked with beechwood), basil and roquette oil. The girls love it, but I find the plums a too sweet; a bowl of that avocado with some bread instead please!

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We all adore the scallops. The sliver of guanciale is delicious, and lurking underneath is like a hazelnut and mushroom paste (a hint of porcini methinks?) which we love.

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Our next dish is also seafood. This time some prawns with a devine miso corn butter, tasty chargrilled corn and curry oil. We all agree though, that the prawns are just a little underdone.

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The pork neck comes with a roasted apricot butter and pickled shitake. Its tender meat and here the fruit works well.

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The side of greens is fresh and crisp and comes with a smooth butter sauce.

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We finish with the flathead done wrapped in seaweed and kataifi pastry, served with peas, pomelo and oyster mayonnaise. I’ve had fish done like this before, but this one is not quite right and needs a little finessing.

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Annata is the kind of place you’ll linger either a little or a lot, and overall I’d happily do the latter again.

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Annata Menu

Annata, 69 Willoughby Rd, Crows Nest, Ph (02) 9437 3700

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

Trifle of almond crumble, mascarpone and fresh figs

This is a great individual dessert I make each Summer when figs are in season, though it would probably also work well with blueberries or strawberries. You can make the almond crumble a day ahead and store it in an airtight container. The mascarpone cream can also be made in the morning, then at serving time all you have to do is assemble. The number of figs will vary depending on the size of your glasses and the size of the figs!  Makes 8-10 depending on the size of your glasses.

4-6 fresh figs, sliced in 3mm slices

Almond crumble
200g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
200g pure icing sugar, sifted
200g plain flour
150g almond meal
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius fan forced. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add flour, salt and almond meal and combine with a spoon until it just comes together. Spread over a baking tray, roughly break up with a fork, and bake until golden (about 15-20 minutes), mixing roughly intermittently with a fork to get a crumble effect.  Allow to cool completely then store in an airtight container until ready to use.  If you have any crumble left over, it is great sprinkled over ice cream or  yoghurt.


Mascarpone cream
5 eggs, separated
5 tbsp caster sugar
500g mascarpone
50ml brandy
50ml marsala

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and fluffy, then add mascarpone and beat at high speed. Stir in the brandy & marsala. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff, then gently fold whites into the mascarpone mixture. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  You can try this with other alcohol combinations, I’ve also done brandy and Amaretto.

In each trifle glass, put a layer of crumble, then a layer of mascarpone cream, then a layer of figs, and repeat.