Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gastronomy Gal: Girl's Dinner

At a birthday dinner in May, some of my friends and I, after a couple of glasses of wine, decided we were going to have a monthly Girl's dinner, hosted at one of our houses. It's similar in some ways, to Gastronaut's Supper Club, but that's all about meeting new people, whereas Girl's Dinner is old friends who bring new friends because we don't see each other nearly often enough.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gifted Gab: Difference between frittata and quiche

The other day I was making frittata and was asked what the difference was between frittata and quiche, or any other egg based similar dish. Whilst I thought I knew the difference, I couldn't really articulate it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

G.G. cooks Pete Evans' Pumpkin and Blue Cheese Frittata

Lately, I've had so many pumpkins to use and the thought of any more pumpkin soup is making me feel that I may well turn into a pumpkin! Camb's dad has a very prolific pumpk vine on the farm and sent some pumpkins (count 5 pumpks) home with us after our last visit. What the hell do two people do with five rather large pumpkins? Well, I gave a couple away and have been busy trying to use the others in creative ways. When I realised we also had some smooth and very subtle blue in the fridge, I thought a pumpkin and blue cheese frittata would be the way to go. 

Notes- Adjustments I made: 
I added caramelised leeks;
I also left out the basil leaves, because I wanted the main focus to be the sage;
I cut the pumpkin into smaller cubes as I was short on time and needed the cubes to cook more quickly.

Pete Evans' Pumpkin and Blue Cheese Frittata 

  • 1 butternut pumpkin cut into 1 inch cubed
  • 1 bunch Sage no stem
  • 1 head Garlic Broken but not peeled
  • sea salt
  • cracked pepper
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 4 tablespoons Blue cheese -St. Agur the best to use, ( I used Tarago River Cheese Co's Shadows of blue) 
  • 2 tablespoons Grated Parmesan
  • 9 Eggs
  • ¾ cup Cream
1.     Roast the pumpkin with a good amount of olive oil with the sage, garlic pieces, sea salt & pepper until golden.
2.     Beat the egg with the cream and some salt and pepper
3.     Heat up a large frying pan with some oil, swirl the oil right around the pan then pour a thin stream of egg mix and swirl around the pan (this creates a base).
4.     Place in the roasted pumpkin, sage, pop out the garlic from its skin and place that in, sprinkle some blue cheese around and top with basil leaves.
5.     Pour the rest of the egg mix in so that it nearly reaches the top
6.     Sprinkle over some grated Parmesan cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes in a medium – hot oven 160-180 degrees Celsius.
7.     Take out of the oven when it has set.
8.     Serve with a rocket and pear salad

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gastronomy Gal Grapes: Monkey Shoulder Triple Malt Whisky

As you may know, Gastronomy Gal is going to be introducing a couple of new segments and G.G. Grapes focusing on all thing alcohol, is going to be one of them. I'm happy to report that Ryn and Cordie, two sassy wine and food matching experts from Brisbane are going to be writing regular guest posts and of course, there will be lots of other posts about wine, cocktails etc.

About six months ago, I received a bottle of Monkey Shoulder Triple Malt Whisky in the mail. I am a fan of whisky but really don't know anything about it. I have been meaning to get to the Whisky Appreciation Society (who meet monthly in Brisbane if you are interested) to learn a little more, but things have been so hectic lately, I haven't had a chance.

Monkey Shoulder is being branded as the 'World's first triple malt whisky' and the quirky name comes from the temporary condition suffered by 'malt men' when turning the barley by hand. Although the barley is still turned by hand today, innovation in the modern world ensures that 'monkey shoulder' is an injury of the past. The name lives on in honour of the malt men of yesteryear.

I finally cracked open the bottle of Monkey Shoulder to give it a try. Other than to say I really liked it, I'm not going to get into reviewing the whisky, I'll leave that to Jim Murray. As a twitter friend wisely suggested, writing about whisky is a minefield, and I'm no expert...

However, one thing I do know about, are cocktails, and Monkey Shoulder is an ideal whisky to go into cocktails. I tested some out (made by me and not a proper bartender) and the results were fab, especially great for adding a warming element to cocktails in winter.

The Mellow Monkey and the Show me the Monkey in particular took my fancy, but there were also more summery and fruity versions available if you want to use it in the warmer months. It is easy to forget that whisky is a great addition to a cocktail, so even if you don't use Monkey Shoulder, I definitely think you should try using some sort of whisky when you are being an awesome DIY mixologist. Whisky is something I would like to see more of, and see a greater appreciation for as it is really complex and quite wonderful. I myself am guilty of being quite ignorant, something I'm going to change.

Whisky Magazine actually have a great list of whisky cocktails here if you are wanting to try something different to the usual cosmo or martini. I also happen to know that Sling Bar in West End and The Bowery in Fortitude Valley are using Monkey Shoulder in some of their cocktails, if you wanted a pro to mix you up a concoction.

Tell me readers: Do you like whisky? Do you choose whisky based cocktails when you are out and about?

G.G. received Monkey Shoulder as a gift from Weber Shandwick.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nekoya Paddington

When I was meandering around Paddington, I noticed Nekoya, a little place tucked in beside a real estate agent and directly across from the Paddo Tavern. It gives me hope to see new places pop up, especially in unexpected locations. When I wandered across to have a look, the premises looked small and simple, but very clean and the menu had promise. I took a take away menu with me, and shelved the location into the back of my mind.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I was in need of some take away, but wanted to go somewhere new. One bittersweet part of being a food blogger is always looking for new places, so that you can blog them. This is great at times, but other times when I go to an old favourite, I almost feel guilty that I'm wasting the opportunity. 

Anyway, I knew a little visit to Nekoya was in order. As there was just me, I only ordered a couple of items, so didn't get enough to really get a good feel for the whole place. The items I did order though, were good enough to leave me wanting more, so last week, Camb and I decided it was time to head back there to grab some take away on a night when I was just too tired to cook.

Nekoya have a menu online which is quite extensive in comparison to the take away paper menu but they seemed to be happy enough to let me order off the online menu. We phoned our order in and had a wait time of approximately 15 minutes, which is more than satisfactory. Nekoya does have dine in options available with limited seating but we wanted to eat at home. I'm going to apologise now, these photos are terrible as per usual, but I had more important things on my mind, like eating the food while it was still hot!

Gyoza come in a serve of 5 for $6.5. They were hot, and the skin was thin and crispy on the bottom. The filling was quality and tasty with a bit of a gingery bite. I wanted more.

Karaage chicken ( 6 pieces for $7.5) isn't something I would usually order, but after eating my friend Kay's karaage chicken at the recent Brisbane Food Blogger's Picnic, I ordered it on a whim. The chicken was tender and the outside, gloriously crunchy. I preferred to eat on it's own, rather than with the mayo dipping sauce that was provided.

Because I'm obviously a fan of fried, but want to somehow justify it to myself by eating vegetables, tempura vegies were a must order. $7.5 the serve of vegies is good value and includes a range of vegies some of which included broccolini, sweet potato, beans and lotus root. The batter was not overly oily and could have been a bit lighter- but was still crunchy and a good dish.

Even though Camb isn't really a fan, I went for the salt and pepper tofu. I know- ANOTHER fried dish, but I really think salt and pepper tofu is a good benchmark dish. It's funny, but something so simple can sometimes be a good indicator for the rest of the food available. 

This salt and pepper tofu was just lovely. Small squares - incredibly thin but crispy batter which housed some soft silken tofu. The salt and pepper batter actually tasted like salt and pepper. It had zing which is sadly lacking from so many 'salt and pepper' dishes and even Camb agreed that this s&p tofu was kicking it with some of the big guys, which are much more 'prestigious' restaurants.

With the amount of fried food I'd ordered, I'd already sold out so felt no shame in going for the teriyaki chicken and avocado sushi ($6.5) and the prawn nigiri ($5). The sushi and nigiri were very fresh and the teriyaki chicken packed some actual flavour- which is nice for a change.   

I admit on this visit, I did go for many of the fried options but have since eaten the sashimi and can say that it was okay. Although not the greatest sashimi I have ever eaten as it was cut a little too thickly, it was definitely passable. There are also many other options including a large range of bento boxes, seafood options like garlic and herb scallops and some rice and noodle dishes on offer, if you aren't after a fried food affair. 

On my number of visits, the staff have been ridiculously polite and very helpful. The prices are reasonable and the food, for a little place, is pretty decent. There aren't too many Japanese take away places around the area, and Nekoya is a great addition. 

When to go: Whenever you want a bit of take away Japanese, or to sit in for a simple cheap and cheerful meal on Given Terrace.

Tell me readers: have you seen any new eateries open up in unexpected locations?

Shop 3, 183 Given Terrace
Paddington QLD 4064
p: 07 3876 2367
e: team@nekoya.com.au
w: http://nekoya.com.au/
Nekoya Japanese Restaurant and Take Away on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gastronomy Gal Gadgets and Gifts: Indian Spice, Sleep Tight and Tummy Tea

G.G. is introducing a few new segments.. Gifts and Gadgets is one of them. I sometimes stumble across some amazing products and would like to tell you all about them. Whether it's something to eat or drink, something to make kitchen life easier, or just something I think is totes cool that readers will appreciate too.

It's safe to assume that most of these products are things I have bought myself. On the odd occasion, I am sent or receive things as gifts. I am no under obligation to do anything about these gifts. But... if I really like them, I may tell you about them. In this instance I will ALWAYS CLEARLY state that I received the good for free.

Right now all that's out of the way........... 

I love tea. My love for tea started at a very young age. I can remember being on camp in year 5 or 6 and nicking about 300 sachets of tea that were available at the breakfast buffet to take back to our room so we could sip on it all day. It was quite lovely, and funnily enough, among an unlikely crowd of other eleven year olds, I found some other tea drinking kindred spirits. Herbal was my (un)poison as caffeine and I aren't great friends. 

With this love, it makes sense that I am a regular visitor to various tea shops around the place. When perusing through T2, The Tea Centre, T'licious or wherever I am, I usually ask for advice. I give specifications for what I want the tea for and then consider my options. 

Indian Spice is not something that would usually appeal, but I decided to try something different and I'm so very glad I did. The mix of Cinnamon, ginger, cloves and pepper has an amazing aroma and was really calming and warming. It's now one of my fave teas. 100 g for $14.5 - or you can always ask for a small sample to try and see if you would like to purchase a larger amount.

Other faves include the Tummy Tea - a really full flavoured mix of peppermint leaves, liquorice root, fennel seeds and calendula petals 50g for $13.5 and the Sleep Tight- a blend that actually  makes me feel sleepy without the usual chamomile - but with lemonbalm, jasmine flower, lavender and rose petals also $13.5 for 50g.

Where to buy: 
T2 Tea are located in lots of places and you can also buy online. 
T2 also have a really great comprehensive website and a personali-tea style quiz.. Who doesn't love a quiz!?

G.G. sourced and bought all these products.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

G.G. cooks Spirit House Red Curry of Duck and Lychee

On one of my many trips to Melbourne in the last couple of years, I managed to eat out quite a bit. Gingerboy was located right near my hotel and so I visited a couple of times. Although other parts of the meal were unmemorable, the red duck curry leg stuck in my mind.

As described in my review, the curry was... "Thick but not gluggy, with an alluring, rich, sweet red curry flavour, that was in no way, underwhlemingly or overwhelming. Somehow, it struck the perfect balance." I've always hoped to come across something similar, but alas, up until this point I have been left disappointed. 

After scoring some duck breasts at the markets on the weekend, I decided it was time to try my hand at a red duck curry- even if it wouldn't be exactly the same as the masterpiece at Gingerboy. A quick flick of my Spirit House cook book revealed a recipe I was happy with, Red Curry of duck and lychee. Lychees obviously aren't in season, and even though I'm not a big advocate of buying tinned, I ended up caving and grabbing some.

The curry was surprisingly easy, and had I used a Chinese duck as was suggested, the whole process would have been incredibly quick - about 15 minutes quick, so very easy to do on a weeknight. I was totally happy with the results - the curry was rich, creamy, had a bit of kick and was the perfect dish for a winter evening.

The Spirit House cook books are really great. If you like Thai cooking, I highly recommend you get your hands on one.

Spirit House Red Curry of Duck and Lychee
2 cups of coconut cream (you could always buy the light version if you are trying to cut back on fat...)
3 tablespoons of red curry paste (I used spirit house curry paste)
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar
1 Chinese roast duck, boned and sliced (I used duck breast that I cooked at home)
2 large red chillies, halved and deseeded
6 kaffir lime leaves
12 lychees, halved and stoned
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves (I only had a little bit of basil in the garden, so popped in coriander as well.)

Skim off 1/2 cup of the coconut cream and boil in wok until starting to separate. Add the curry paste (Spirit House have curry paste available for purchase in the freezer section at some delis) and fry for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the fish sauce and palm sugar, cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining coconut cream and bring to the boil. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

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