Tag Archives: Sydney

In My Kitchen, May 2018

A new month has rolled around and with it a new edition of the IMK global monthly link up, currently hosted by Sherry’s Pickings.   Here’s what has been happening in the Napoli kitchen the last few weeks.

In my kitchen is a new – and very appropriate – sign above the pantry.  The Small People have no sooner finished a meal when they are sticking their head in the pantry or fridge looking for “a little snack”.  Having been premmie twins, they have always literally been very skinny Small People and friends and family are left agog when they see the staggering quantities of food they are currently putting in those tiny frames.  A growth spurt is due methinks.

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A darling friend who is Greek Orthodox recently bought me over a batch of her koulourakia, Greek Easter biscuits.   They were absolutely delicious, I’ve asked her to translate the recipe for me.

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In my kitchen is a fresh yuzu!  Yuzu is a Japanese citrus often used in sauces, dressings and desserts, which is now starting to be cultivated locally (usually it’s just imported from Japan in concentrate form).  A lovely friend has a gorgeous farm in the Blue Mountains where she is growing them.  Her harvest is eagerly sought after by Tetsuya, Rockpool and Sake (“our Yuzu Lady is here”, cry the Japanese chefs). But with very little rain this year, it has unfortunately not been a great crop, so I felt very special when she gave me one! It’s incredibly fragrant.  I made a little Japanese style dressing for a salad.

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Also on the Japan theme, I love a lot of the little Japanese gadgets at Daiso.  It’s been a very handy place over the years to find stuff for many of the Small People’s school projects, craft, special theme days and for their stationery.  But they have a lot of great kitchen gadgets too.  I saw this mini mandolin and thought I’d give it a whirl.  If I need consistent very thin slices for just one onion or one cucumber, this little version is great and much handier than getting out my large full scale mandolin, as well as quicker and easier to clean. For $2.80, it’s a win.

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A #kitchenfail (which we don’t often share on IMK!).  I’m a bit obsessed with Puglia at the moment, and I thought I’d try to make one of the region’s popular dishes called a Tiella Barese.  It’s basically onion, tomato, aborio rice and mussels baked in the oven.  I was wondering how the rice would cook with the small quantity of liquid suggested, and I was right it didn’t.  So I probably did something wrong.  It did look and smell awesome so it’s a real shame it didn’t work out!

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In some sad news, one of our chooks, Lily, passed away recently.  The girls were scratching around the yard and some kind of disagreement went on between them and Lily was knocked over.  I scooped her up and held her but she was clearly stressed and breathing heavily and not long after I think her little heart gave out.  The Small People took it badly.  It’s strange going to the coop every day and only seeing five of the girls, it will take some getting used to; they were very quiet in the days that followed. You were a good little chicken Lily.

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I hope you are having a lovely autumn, or spring for my northern hemisphere readers. And wishing a Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there.

 

 

 

Mama’s Buoi, Tramsheds

I’ve been to Tramsheds a number of times since it opened.  The variety of cuisines is good, parking is easy, and you can finish off any visit with a gelato from Messina!

I’ve been to Mama’s Buoi in Crows Nest, and enjoyed it. The menu at the three Sydney venues differs slightly and I liked the look of some of the Tramshed dishes (the Small People are also getting into Vietnamese), so off we went.

As you’d expect with Vietnamese there are lots of herbs, lots of vegetables, a bit of spice.  Service was efficient if not particularly friendly.  The pricing is also very reasonable for the serving size. My picks were the duck pancakes, the salt and pepper squid, and the fragrant beef with the greens.

Pulled Duck Pancake with pineapple, pickled carrots, mixed herbs & honey

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Vietnamese salt & pepper squid with Mama’s secret spices

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Marinated Chicken Skewers with pickled vegetables, lettuce cups & nước mắm sauc

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Crispy Fried Soft Shell Crab with a green papaya salad

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Mama’s Beef Stir Fry with lemongrass, Asian broccoli, chilli & oyster sauce

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Wok Tossed Seafood with lemongrass, tiger prawns, squid and ling

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Ginger chicken stir fry with onion, shiitake mushrooms, green shallots, sesame oil and oyster sauce

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Special Crab Fried Rice with onion, coriander, fried egg & lime dressing

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For other Tramsheds visits, have a look at Flour Eggs Water and Osaka Trading Co.

Mama’s Buoi, Tramsheds Ph 02 9952 1638
http://www.mamasbuoi.com.au

Toshiya, Cremorne

I’ve loved seeing the palate of the Small People develop over time.  With lots of exposure, and gentle encouragement, they have gotten more adventurous with their food.  While at home they usually like me to dish up the same Italian rustic favourites, when we eat out they enjoy all sorts of new flavours.  Chicken liver pate? That was interesting, mum.  Confit of duck, roast quail? Yes please.   And where a visit to Japanese once meant them ordering steamed rice and perhaps chicken karaage, now it’s miso tofu and kingfish with a ponzu dressing, and I’m lucky if they leave me a sliver of beef tataki.

So here we are at Toshiya on the busy Military Road strip, and I watch them planning to order at least half the menu; at the moment their legs seem hollow and the hunger is perpetual.   It’s a fairly standard family friendly neighbourhood Japanese, with bouts of inventiveness on the specials menu.  I watch other youngsters battling their parents for the last piece of salmon sushi.   The service is efficient, the prices reasonable and the produce fresh.  The highlight for me was the straight up sashimi, excellent quality; the lowlight duck dumplings, which didn’t taste at all like duck and were a bit meh.   The calamari was also very tasty.  A few pictures of some of what we ordered below.

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Toshiya, 283 Military Road, Cremorne, Ph 02 8969 6989
http://www.toshiya.com.au

Today’s cake – plum and vanilla cake

I’ve had some really delicious plums this season, juicy and with varying degrees of sweetness, depending on the variety.  When my friend Francesca over at Almost Italian posted a plum cake recipe, and The Marito started dropping not so subtle “I haven’t had cake for a while” hints, I knew it was time for  plum cake in the Napoli household. I remembered a good Bill Granger recipe I had made a long time ago, and hoped it wasn’t in one of the cookbooks I’d boxed up in the renovation move (one of the reasons for the lack of cake making is the very ordinary oven in our cheap and nasty rental while we renovate, but needs do as needs must).  Lucky day, the book was in the unboxed stash.  It’s a simple cake with plenty of flavour, and I’m sure the homemade vanilla extract helps. You may need 4 or 6 plums, depending on how big they are.  I must make this again before the autumn plums finish, it really is delicious.

Cake
180g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature plus a little extra for greasing
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
185g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
5 plums, cut in half and seed removed

Topping
90g plain flour
100g cold unsalted butter
90g caster sugar

Making it
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan forced and grease a 24cm springform cake tin with butter

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating after each addition, then add vanilla extract. Fold in the flour and baking powder until well combined. Spread the mixture evenly into the cake tin then gently press in the plums cut side up.

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To make the topping, place the flour, butter and sugar in a bowl and rub with your fingers until crumbly. You can also do this in a food processor (I used my mini whizz for this small quantity).

Sprinkle the topping over the top of the cake and bake for one hour or until a skewer in the centre comes out clean. The top should be nice and golden. Remove from oven and cool in tin for 10 minutes before removing. Yum.

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In My Kitchen, March 2018

Autumn has begun but it’s still warm and balmy in Sydney, after an exceptionally dry Summer.   The weather has meant that lots of salads, grilled fish, and omelettes with fresh herbs have been coming out of the kitchen.

In My Kitchen is a monthly link up of kitchens around the world, currently hosted by Sherry at Sherry’s pickings. It has been going for eight years now, started by the lovely Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. A few things to share from the Napoli kitchen over the last few weeks:

With the new year in full swing it was time to wrestle control of the pantry.  A lot of the containers I bought sixteen years ago as a newlywed (sixteen years!) were worse for wear or no longer sealing properly, so it was time for some new containers, and also labels to make it easy to find everything.  I ordered a standard pack from Pretty Pantry Labels (product certainly as described!) and a handful of custom ones from The Pantry Label Shop, and we were good to go.

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On a recent trip to Carriageworks Markets, I liked the sound of these eggplant ravioli from Pasta Gallery and bought some to try.  I served them simply, some baby spinach, semi dried tomatoes, spring onions, olive oil and shaved parmesan.  They were delicious.

I also bought these carrots – aren’t the colours glorious?

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In my kitchen is a new apron, butcher style, that a generous friend bought for me at a recent cooking night.

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I mentioned recently that Mamma Rosa has discovered technology.  In her sixties, Mamma Rosa is texting, emailing and YouTubing with the best of them. She loves watching recipe videos in Italian. I discovered that Mamma Rosa and the Small People are now texting each other – pretty much exclusively about food.  Mamma Rosa writes in Italian, and the Small People text back in a combination of Italian and English.  Their funny little conversations are often about special menu requests (“can you please make us arancini”).  One of them was for a batch of “biscotto”, or what the Small People call “crunchy bread”.  Mamma Rosa’s feather light biscotto – also often called freselle – is ideal for a snack with any topping – avocado, cheese, ricotta, tomato.  We all love it.

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Our chooks have been laying well in this warm weather, although we have encountered a couple of stubborn brooders.  The girls are over a year old now, so officially “hens” rather than “pullets” and the eggs are getting noticeably bigger.  We get a consistent stream of 70 gram plus eggs, except for petite and dainty Grace, who produces corresponding cute petite and dainty eggs.  I do have to be careful when I am baking because of the size as it can result in distorted proportions. Don’t tell the others, but I think Rosie’s eggs are my favourite.

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I’ve been spending a good bit of time thinking about kitchen layout and other cabinetry for the renovation and build, which is slowly making progress.  Hafele have some really clever storage solutions for internal cupboards.

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In my kitchen is a great buy from Aldi recently – dual lemon and lime pack! They will be making their way to our new garden.  They also had fig plants but these disappeared too quickly.

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I hope you all have a lovely March!

Bennelong, Sydney

Recently, I was invited to a lovely lunch at Bennelong.  Now in the hands of Peter Gilmore, I haven’t been here since Guillaume was at the helm.

When Guillaume’s lease was up back in 2013, the space was put out to tender with a brief that it would be “more accessible”, and Guillaume wasn’t keen on a more casual type venue.  The Van Haandels, behind Melbourne’s Stokehouse, won the tender and planned to open it seven days a week including breakfast on weekends.  While it was not going to be cheap, the plan was to make it more affordable than a fine diner and not such restricted opening times.  Imagine going there for a breakfast or brunch on a special occasion like Mother’s Day or a birthday, or going just because it’s a beautiful Sydney morning.  It never happened though, with the Van Haandels’ Melbourne restaurant tragically falling to a fire, and their attention had to be focussed on rebuilding that.

In steps Peter Gilmore to take over. And I’m not sure what happened to the whole desired more casual vibe that made Guillaume walk away, as it’s very much a fine dinner, with lunch only three days a week and dinner seven days.  And I don’t think the whole “accessible” thing has really been achieved with a three course meal at $135 for lunch and $145 for dinner; add a few wines and coffee and $200 per head is not a normal meal for most people, even the well healed, so special occasion it is.  Bit of a shame as more people should get to experience this unique space.

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Now I will say that I’ve always thought Peter Gilmore’s Quay was a little overrated, and I’ve been a few times.  If I was going to splash out, it wouldn’t be on my list. So I was curious here.  And it was a really lovely and beautifully presented meal – with entrees outperforming mains –  but I didn’t walk away thinking I’m dying to go back, and there is a dish I must have again, and I must take the Marito and and and…

On the menu that day:

Tartare of Rangers Valley wagyu with horseradish cream, capers, parsley and crispy beef tendon.  I love a good tartare and this was well balanced with the horseradish and the textural element.

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Confit tomatoes with straciatella, smoked almonds, sherry caramel and linaria (which is a herb apparently).  Essentially Italian cheese and tomatoes – a very classic combination, but a richness was added with the caramel.

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Yellowfin tuna with kohlrabi remoulade, anchovy emulsion, black rice and lava chips.  Beautiful quality tuna.

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And for the mains, pink snapper with radish, shellfish broth and lobster roe emulsion.  So tiny for a main course, and not sure where the broth was.

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Grass fed lamb, spring cabbage, fermented rye peas and blossoms.  Again a very small main course, and this was disappointing as the lamb was cold and a bit chewy.

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Onto dessert. Now this dish, strawberries and cream, did wow me.  I don’t really do strawberries much, but this was just a wonderful combination of flavour and texture and tasted so lively and fresh.

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Finally chocolate cake from across the water (does that mean Tassie?).  I’m not big on chocolate and found it bitter, but the chocolate fans on the table liked it.

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Bennelong, Sydney Opera House, Ph 9240 8000
http://www.bennelong.com.au

Mushroom and filo scroll

Always on the hunt for good vegetarian recipes for The Marito, I thought I’d give this recipe, courtesy of Belinda Jeffrey, a try. I did make a few changes, using less butter, less and lite sour cream and skipping the garlic. You’ll serve 4-6 with this, more if part of a banquet. I think this is one of those versatile “any time of the day” dishes – it would easily work for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or a late night supper! I used a good variety of mushrooms – other than standard cup I used oyster, Swiss brown, enoki, shemeji and shiitake, about half cup and half the others. It can turn into a costly dish if you go all exotic varieties, and nothing wrong with just using standard cup for the whole thing.

Ingredients
Mushroom filling
80ml olive oil
50g unsalted butter
2 medium brown onions, finely diced
1kg mushrooms sliced
100g lite sour cream
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
lemon juice, to taste (optional)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup (about 15g) tightly packed finely chopped dill
60g pecans, coarsely chopped

Pastry
12 sheets filo pastry
100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Poppy seeds for sprinkling

Making it
1. First make the filling. Place the oil and butter in a large frypan on medium heat, then add the onion and cook for 8-10 minutes or until softened. Then add the mushrooms and cook for 15 or so minutes. All the juices will need to evaporate or your scroll will be soggy.
2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sour cream, mustard, lemon juice (I just used a squeeze), season with salt and pepper and combine all ingredients. Allow the mixture to cool and once cool add the dill and the nuts
3. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees. Place some baking paper on a baking tray and place your 12 filo sheets on a slightly damp tea towel.
4. Take one filo sheet, lightly butter, then place another sheet, until you have three sheets. Repeat so that you have four lots of three sheets. Divide your mushroom mixture into four and spoon in a “log” shape down one long side of the filo. Then roll each of the four lots into logs. Take the first log and shape it into a coil and place it on your baking tray. (You can if you like place the logs inside a springform cake tin to ensure it holds its shape). Lightly butter the outside edge so that the next log sticks and then coil the next log and the next and you’ll end up with a large coil. Brush the top with butter, season the top with a bit of salt and pepper and sprinkle the poppy seeds. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the filo is nice and golden. Slide it onto a serving plate. I find it is easiest to cut using a serrated knife.