Archive for the ‘Australian food’ Category

KimchiFriedRice3I think everyone has certain rules or considerations before people can be considered as friends.  There are obvious considerations such as not being a complete tool or tosser in order to be looked upon as a friend… unless you like those qualities in people.  Some people prefer to limit their friendships with folks who have like-minded religious or political beliefs.  Ok, cool.  That’s fine.  I have certain rules and guidelines as well.  I can’t be friends with people who don’t like to suck the brains and guts out of shrimp heads when eating whole shrimp, or are grossed out when I do.  For those of you who don’t do that, you don’t know what you’re missing.  I also can’t be friends with people who refuse to try kimchi.  It’s cool if you don’t like it but as long as you’ve tried it.  But to flat out say that you won’t even taste it… that’s the culinary equivalent of being a narrow-minded bigot if you ask me.

I kid, I kid.

I’m not that serious, but you can see the point I’m getting at.  I often ask people who refuse to eat or try kimchi why they won’t taste it.  I get responses such as, “Isn’t it fermented?  Meaning that it’s rotten cabbage?”  Why yes.  Yes it is.  I often follow that up with counter questions of my own.  “Do you like cheese?  Oh you do?  Well you realize that’s rotten milk, right?”  “Do you like wine?  Oh you do!?  You realize that’s rotten grape juice, right?”  “Do you like beer?  Who am I kidding… of course you do!  You realize that’s rotten barley juice, right?”  And finally, “do you like sauerkraut?  Perhaps with your Rueben sandwich or with your hotdogs and brats?  Oh you do?  Well what do you know… kimchi is pretty much the exact same thing except spicier.”  Free your minds, people.KimchiFriedRice1

I’ve seen kimchi fried rice on menus in Korean restaurants before but I’ve never taken the plunge in ordering it.  I’ve of course had my fair share of kimchi and would be very happy eating it with plain rice.  Cold kimchi and hot rice is a typical lunch in Korea for the working class and it’s more than enough to make me happy.  But I started thinking about other uses for the kimchi I had bought at the local Asian store and decided to scour the internet for a kimchi friend rice recipe. One of my favorite accompaniments for kimchi is barbecue and I recently made a rack of ribs (that’s another post for another time) that went perfect with it.  The sweetness of the barbecue sauce with the richness of the fatty ribs with white rice and a side of cold spicy/sour/acidic kimchi hits a lot of flavor combinations that would make any palette dance.  But I wanted to try something different and dug up a kimchi friend rice recipe that I made some tweaks to form my own

Ingredients

-Previously cooked rice.  Preferably cooked 1-2 days before.  Enough for 3 servings or so.

-1 carrot

-Several shiitake mushrooms

-3-4 green onions (spring onions)

-Several garlic cloves (or less if you prefer)

-1 cup of kimchi

-Vegetable cooking oil

-1 egg per serving

-Salt and pepper

KimchiFriedRice2Start by heating cooking oil in a wok or large pan.  As the oil gets hot, julienne cut the carrot, chop up the shiitake mushrooms, chop up the green onions (save some for garnish), and mince the garlic.  Toss the julienned carrot, chopped up shiitake mushrooms/green onion, and minced garlic and let the flavors combine and soften.

As it’s softening, cut up the kimchi in a bowl using kitchen shears which would be a perfect tool.  The reason you’re cutting kimchi in a bowl is because if you do it on a cutting board, it will stain it and perhaps even leave a lingering smell.

Add the cut up kimchi to the wok and mix it in to incorporate it with the rest of the vegetables.  Add in the rice, and break up the clumps with the back of the spoon so that individual grains can pick up the sauce brought about from the kimchi and vegetable mixture.  It should have a light red tint.  Add salt and pepper as needed.

Before plating, fry a sunny side up egg on a separate pan.  Plate the fried rice, sprinkle some of the remaining chopped up green onion, and land the sunny side up fried egg on top.  Enjoy with Korean barbecue, or your own barbecue concoction such as ribs, beef brisket, or even pulled pork.  I’d put this up against any other version of friend rice around Asia as well (Chinese, Filipino, Nasi Goreng from Indonesia, etc.).

Plus for those out there who have yet to try kimchi, this is a great way to get an initial taste before eating it as an accompanying side dish as it is meant to be.

Mums Apple Pie.jpgSince my unexpected arrival back in Australia 2 weeks ago, I have been bunkering down at my parents’ house.  It has always been a place that I feel at home, get taken care of and can take some time to get my head on straight. I was fortunate to have one of my Apples.jpgclosest friends K and her baby and husband come up the first weekend for Sunday lunch. This was a wonderful distraction and enjoyable afternoon, a great way to get my mind of my own troubles.

I managed to help Mum whip up some food, making a mushroom risotto and some fresh bread. However in my less than stellar state I let Ingredients.jpgMum cook dessert. Mum’s apple pie (that is actually her sister’s husband’s grandmother’s recipe… yes it is one of those recipes) is sweet, delicious and not like the apple pies you get in the US. It has a sweet shortcrust pastry rather than the more savoury kind you get in the US.Pastry.jpg

Firstly put on the apples to stew… Just peel and slice up some granny smith apples and add them to a pot with 2 tablespoons of sugar.

For the pastry, beat 125 grams of butter and ¾ cup of sugar together until creamy. Add in 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Next mix in 1 teaspoon of vanilla Rolling.jpgand a pinch of salt. Then gradually mix in 2 cups of self-raising flour, ½ cup of plain flour and ½ cup of cornflour. Mix this until everything is combined.

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The rest is simply rolling out the dough for the base and the top. Filling the pie with thecooled apples and then baking.

It bakes in a 180C oven for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. The great thing is that because the apples are cooked you’re Pie.jpgjust cooking the pastry until it is crispy.

This is now my new go to sweet choice for when I am down… not chocolate or icecream… Mum’s apple pie. Served with a dollop of icecream or fresh cream, it is just the perfect way to end a Sunday lunch or any lunch or dinner or breakfast… my new comfort food. Thankfully though it isn’t hard to make it is just time consuming enough for me not to make it too often… otherwise I could be in big trouble! Delicious, sweet and crispy… give it a try, it is guaranteed to help warm your heart!

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Sausage RollsWe are back from Hawaii with many adventures to share and food to write about, just give me a day or two to settle back in to real life! I wanted to put a quick repost in honor of tonight’s start of the NFL season. I now have 16 weeks of Sundays where J. will barely communicate ahead of me but we both love the game and of course the food that comes with it.

It is also finals time for Aussie Rules and NRL back home in Australia so it is fitting for my wonderful Aussie followers also.

So here is a favorite recipe and favorite footy food from Australia – the sausage roll! A delicious savory treat with ketchup, relish or bbq sauce on the side and of course the prerequisite beer.

Check out the original entry here – Aussie Footy Food!

Enjoy the recipe and the football – whatever code or team you might follow!

Muffin Tin Meat Pies.jpgWe reached a milestone this week… we have over 2500 followers now! To celebrate this great milestone I thought I would revisit a recipe from the early days of the blog.

Also, I have been craving a taste from home and what better way to taste Australia than through meat pies.

These were tasty little treats I made for J. and I during NFL season last year. A nice little snack for watching footy. We did an entire series of Football Food posts last year and with the NFL season only 3 weeks away, I am going to have to prepare some more great snack ideas.

These pies were very easy to make, especially since I cheated and bought the pastry instead of making it myself. You could also try all different kinds of fillings but we stayed with the traditional beef and added some spice and chili! You could also make them into a full size pie but these were the perfect size for a tv snack. Beer and a pie – a completely Australian way to watch the football.

So take a trip down memory lane, across the Pacific to Australia with me…. here.

Betel Leaf.jpgFirst let me apologize for my absence. I haven’t been well and have not been up to sitting down and writing when I Watermelon.jpgget home from work. I hope I am back to normal and be posting regularly again from now on.

Back to food!

J. and I still have so much food to write about from our time back in Australia. I thought I would share one of the meals we had at a great Asian restaurant in Melbourne while we were there.

For Christmas we were lucky enough to get a $100 gift card for Red Spice Road, a very cool, very delicious Asian restaurant in one of the gorgeous laneways in Melbourne. For those of you who don’t know Melbourne, it is filled with small laneways that have some of the best food, coffee and nightlife the city has to offer, well really, Australia has to offer. Whenever in Melbourne, time must be taken to wander these laneways and see what has changed, discover new places and visit old favorites.

Oysters.jpgJ. had never been to this restaurant before so we decided to go all out and get the $75 per person tasting menu… Tofu and mushrooms.jpgwhy not when we had the gift card! We mistakenly thought that we needed to pick a few of the items from the huge tasting menu to have, however it turned out that we got enough of everything on the menu for two… Oh dear!

The first trio of dishes were little nibblies or starters. Just a bite of each for us. But those bites were magnificent! First up was Betel Leaf with Chicken, Crab, Coconut, Chilli & Kaffir Lime. I usually find things wrapped in betel leaf to bitter but this was just perfect. The chilli & lime fought against the bitterness and the sweet crab and coconut just tied it all together. The next bite was Watermelon topped with Sticky Pork, Peanut and Prawn Relish. As weird and unusual as this sounds it was probably my favorite thing of the night. I don’t actually know how to describe this accurately but it was a burst of sweet, savory flavor in your mouth. I could have eaten 12 of them but we only got 1 each.

Lamb Ribs.jpgThe last dish in this first trio was an Oyster with Chilli Jam, Lime Juice and Crispy Shallots. Now IBeef salad.jpgam not sure if I have ever expressed the love J. and I have for oysters on the blog before… but we seriously have an obsession with them. I think we would have been happy to eat the oysters and nothing else if we could have had 3 dozen of them! These were the perfect bite, but sadly just one bite each.

A few sips of wine and a little chatter later the next trio of dishes arrived. These would be the appetizers. First was the Beef, Rice Noodle, Herb, Pickled Carrot, Cucumber and Shallot Salad, seriously spicy and delicious. There is something so refreshing about this kind of salad!

Kingfish salad.jpgIn this trio we also had Crispy Tofu with Mushrooms, Wombok, Bamboo, Green Onion and Masterstock Duck curry.jpgand Twice Cooked Lamb Ribs with a Tamarind and Coconut Relish. Both of these were completely amazing. The lamb ribs, well the meat just fell off the bone and then the tofu dish was unbelievably delicious. J. even enjoyed the tofu.

I was getting full, really full by this stage and the main dishes were still to come! I thought they would be small but they were huge and this trio had my favorite dish from this restaurant in it so I had to find room to eat!

The final trio… could we do it??

First was the Raw Kingfish, Green Tomato, Asian Celery, Green Chilli and Coriander Salad, light and perfectly cooked… we managed to squeeze all of this in. J. was a trooper and pushed through the pain. Also in the trio was a Duck Red Curry with Pineapple and Sweet Potato. This was a creamy, spicy curry with just the right hint of sweetness. If I hadn’t already had 7 other dishes I could have dived into this!

Pork Belly Perfection.jpgThe last dish was the dish that I come to Red Spice Road for… Pork Belly with Apple Slaw, Chilli Caramel and Pandan Cream.jpgBlack Vinegar. What do I have to say really… the name says it all. Crispy pork belly with chilli and vinegar – PERFECTION!

We were full… 9 dishes of food… I know it was a tasting menu but those servings were not small… And then there was still the dessert. I didn’t know if we could do it but the waiter promised us it was light and refreshing…Pandan Cream with Puffed Wild Rice, Peanut Praline and Coconut. Well, the waiter was right. It was fresh, light and delicious. The best thing to finish off our feast.

It was a long meal… 3 hours. It was a delicious meal and it was a big meal! We were both so impressed and happy with our dinner. We didn’t really need to eat for a few days after but of course we were on holidays so that didn’t happen.

So if you ever find yourself wandering around Melbourne’s laneways definitely check out Red Spice Road!

BBQ Lamb.jpgA few weeks before we jetted off to Australia, J and I did our own version of marinated grilled lamb. It was delicious, I was pretty happy with it. However, we also requested for our trip home that my Dad make us his herb & garlic barbeque lamb. Even though ours was good it didn’t come close to what his is like.

That first Sunday we were home Dad whipped this up to go with our Wombok Salad.

First thing first. You need to be able to get a de-boned butterflied leg of lamb. If your local supermarket does that for you great! Otherwise you might need to find a specialty butcher shop (not something we have a lot of here in AZ). This recipe uses a 2kg piece of lamb.

In a bowl 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly, 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper, 2 tablespoons of wholegrain mustard, 3/4 cup dry white wine and 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary leaves. Mix this together well. Then, in a shallow dish lie the lamb out as flat as you can and pour the marinade over the top. Cover this and then you refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours… I always like to do this overnight.

Dad cooks his on the BBQ, and I think this is why his tasted better than ours, which we cooked inside on a grill pan… The BBQ just makes everything taste better.

After marinating for a few hours/nights, remove the lamb from the marinade. You can use the marinade as a sauce later so put it into a shallow pan and set aside. Place the lamb flat on the pre-heated BBQ over low heat, sprinkle with salt – we use around 2 teaspoons of salt. Cover the top of the lamb with foil if you aren’t cooking it in a covered BBQ.

Cook for 15 minutes and then turn and cook for another 15. You can cook more or less depending on how you like your lamb cooked. This comes out a medium – medium rare. After the 30 minutes cooking time brush the lamb all over with mint jelly. Cook for another 3 minutes on each side. This should get the lamb nice and brown with a thin crust. Remove from the BBQ and rest.

Meanwhile, inside… add ¼ cup of chicken stock to the leftover marinade and slowly bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 5 mins. Slice the lamb and then drizzle the sauce over the top.

Now I am sure it is obvious how much we love this. I won’t go on and on and on… I will the photos and the recipe speak for themselves… But you do have to love some Aussie lamb on the BBQ!

Prosciutto Salad.jpgNow that I am working I am finding less time to blog so I am still filling you all in on the wonderful food we ate in Australia back in December and early January. I am hoping I will get into a better blogging routine once I am used to working again! In the mean time I wanted to share a great salad we ate Christmas Eve in Australia.

This salad is a meal on its own but we were lucky enough to have it with some delicious Moreton Bay Bugs. These are a type of crayfish found in Queensland. They are one of my favorite types of seafood and something we traditionally have at Christmas time. We eat these plain… they don’t need to be boiled in spices or anything just cooked simply, cut down the middle and this time we served them with a mango chili mayonnaise. (Recipe for the mayonnaise to follow later).

Back to the salad.

In a large (and I mean LARGE!) salad bowl put a mixture of salad leaves. You can choose any kind you like, we did a mix of my parents’ home grown lettuce. Drain around 270 grams of semi dried tomatoes, make sure you keep the oil though because this becomes part of the dressing. Add the tomatoes to the salad leaves.Moreton Bay Bugs.jpg

Next, slice up 1 bunch of asparagus into about 1 inch lengths. Blanch these for a few minutes, but make sure they are still crunchy. Set them aside to cool.

Add to the salad bowl ¼ cup of pine nuts and 1 thinly sliced red onion. Finally add in the cooled asparagus and toss all the ingredients together.

Now the thing that makes this salad more like an entire meal is the topping. On top of the tossed ingredients the deliciousness is layered. First, pan fry 6 large slices of prosciutto. Break these up when cooked and layer them over the salad. The shave large pieces of fresh parmesan cheese over the top of the prosciutto and salad. I like to use a vegetable peeler to get the big chunky shavings of parmesan. Now, I know some people don’t like parmesan so you could use pecorino or even a mild Mango Chilli Mayonnaise.jpgcheese like swiss over the top.

The final part of this salad is the dressing, quite possibly the simplest dressing ever. In a bottle mix the drained oil from the tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Shake this well and then drizzle over the salad.

Serve and eat… It is such a delicious, hearty salad and I could eat it as a meal all by itself. The bugs were just an awesomely delicious bonus. The saltiness of the prosciutto and cheese with the crunchiness of the pine nuts is so yummy! The bugs dipped in the mayonnaise on the side was a perfect warm summer’s day lunch!

Wombok Salad.jpgI am a big fan of salad during the summer. When we were home in Australia Mum brought out some of my favorites. The one I want to share today was made the first Sunday we were home and some friends were coming up from Brisbane for lunch.

This is what I refer to as a Wombok Salad but it is probably more accurately called, Oriental Fried Noodle Salad . Sometimes I add roast chicken or pork to it but this day we had it as an accompaniment to Dad’s grilled lamb.

Now be careful… this is so easy you might just get it wrong!

Finely slice half of one large Wombok (or Chinese cabbage) until it is just above the base. The leaves around the base can get quite thick and bitter so I use a little but not all of that thicker part. Put all of this into a large salad bowl.

Then put 100 grams slivered almonds into a fry pan and gently brown them. I was kidding about the whole be careful because it’s so simple but the number of times I have got distracted and burnt my almonds is unbelievable. When browned just take these off the heat and let them cool.

Meanwhile, chop up 6 green onions (spring onions), these don’t have to be too fine but don’t do giant chunks either. I usually cut them around ¼ of an inch long. When cut throw these into the salad bowl with the wombok.

Next up is to make the dressing. In a bottle put ¼ cup of white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of sesame oil and ½ a cup of olive oil. Close the bottle and shake furiously!

Just before you are ready to serve throw in 1 small packet of fried noodles, the almonds and then pour the dressing over the top. Gently mix everything together and it is ready to serve.

I love this salad… It is one J likes too which is always good. I could eat this without anything else for lunch anytime. It was great however with Dad’s lamb… so delicious. This was just the start of the feast my parents put on for us when we were home!

P.S. Check out the salad bowl we used in the photo… very cool!

Mixed Grill.jpgI am a city girl, I love the noise, the pace and the variety that a city offers… Until I moved here to Arizona, I had been living smack bang in the center of Melbourne city… The strange thing is, is that I grew up in the country. Small town Queensland. When we moved from first small town to second small town (of 10,000 people) when I was 14 I was so excited because they had traffic lights and fast food places… McDonald’s, KFC, Red Rooster… What a metropolis! I would never move back to live in a small country town but I love visiting and my parents still live in a small town so I get plenty of fresh air, country hospitality and good food when I visit them.

One of the great things I find about Australian small country towns is that there is always a good pub. At least one, sometimes 3, even 4 or more sometimes! You are never short of a pub in the country. The food at these out of the way pubs can often be some of the best, largest and most delicious pub food you will ever get. Meat so fresh you would think they had just carved it off a cow, servings so large to help fill the hole that country air seems to create. They would give many city pubs a run for their money when it comes to their food… not to mention their cheap drink prices.

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The Saturday night after we got back to Australia we had driven up to Mum and Dad’s and decided on the way we wanted to go to Meringandan Pub. This is a tiny, tiny little “town” about 10 minutes from my parent’s house and 15 minutes from a pretty big city (by Australian standards) but they have possibly the best pub food I have ever eaten!

The four of us, J., my parents and I headed off for our yummy meal. J. had decided to take on the challenge of the mixed grill that many have tried but failed to finish. I um’ed and ah’ed but finally decided to go with the surf and turf option. My Mum went with braised lamb shanks and Dad went with the bone-in rib eye.

I went up and ordered for us all and of course it is never as simple as that… the questions began… how would you like it, what kind of sauce; veggies or salad & chips??? So many options to go along with our meat… lots and lots of meat!

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Let’s start with the smallest meal – Mum’s lamb shanks were quite scrumptious. Nice and tender – the meat falling off the bone. She had veggies with her shanks, there were a variety of veggies, including potato done two ways… mashed and roasted. I think she was very happy with her selection.

My surf and turf was unbelievable… it came with a mountain of beer battered chips, a great garden salad and then the meat… I a couple of battered prawns and some crispy calamari on top of a huge perfectly cooked medium rare steak. I had a chosen the pepper sauce and it was great for dipping both the chips and steak in. I was unbelievably happy with this. The meal was so big I didn’t even come close to finishing it, the steak was hanging off the plate it was sooo big. I just have to say though that the chips were amazing and I just couldn’t stop eating them!

Dad had his rib eye on the bone, also with chips, salad and pepper sauce (we weren’t so original with the sauce choices). His steak was huge as well and perfectly cooked. That is something I have found at this pub – you never get a badly cooked steak!Rib on the bone.jpg

Last but certainly not least was the monster of all meals, J’s MIXED GRILL!!!! A plate piled high with salad and chips and then stacked with a steak, a lamb chop, a pork chop, a beef sausage and some bacon just to top it all off! J also got the pepper sauce just as a side note. Now my uncle has tried to finish this as have some other friends of ours but no one has ever succeeded… until now! J attacked it with a vengeance… head down, no conversation, he was a man focused and obsessed!

I was so proud of my man for conquering the mixed grill and it was enjoyed at the same time. He said it was great steak (he usually refuses to eat steak outside of our own home) and the rest of the meat was just delicious. He couldn’t believe how tasty the pepper sauce was either – who knew it would be that yummy!

Our dinner here was just fantastic… everytime we go home to visit my parents now we will definitely make a stop off here. If you are ever in Queensland – out near Toowoomba – stop here, get some lunch or dinner… just be prepared to sleep off a feast in your car afterwards if you have to keep on driving! Another great pub with fabulous food in a small country town… unbelievable!

Let me know if you know of any great country pubs with amazing food for our next trip home!

Italian Thick Chocolate.jpgAustralia is in the middle of summer right now, when we arrived in Brisbane back on the 21st it was hot, steamy and overcast. We had our lunch out with friends and had decided to explore the city center a little. We jumped on a bus and trundled into the city and watched the rain clouds gather…

Now this preamble is leading to a food adventure but I need to set the scene…

We arrive in the city and wander down the Queen Street Mall, the rain starts falling gently… we walk further… across the river to Southbank and the “beach”. Those of you who don’t know Brisbane, they have created a man-made beach right in the center of town on the south bank of the river. I am pretty soaked at this stage and even though it is hot and muggy the last thing I want to do is risk getting sick on our first day of vacation.

Then I saw it, an oasis from the rain… Max Brenner. This is a chain of “restaurants”/ “cafes”/ Spicy Mexican Chocolate.jpg“chocolate shops” that can be found around Australia… actually when I was just googling I found that there are some here in the US too, including Vegas – How did I not know this!?! They do some decadent waffles and sweets not to mention delicious chocolates. I suddenly wanted a hot chocolate! J had never been to Max Brenner for some reason so I suggested a short respite from the rain and a cup of hot chocolate to share!

So in we went to dry off and order a cup to share… well as if that was ever going to happen… we ended up ordering 2 cups, because we could! I wanted what I have always had, the Mexican Spicy Chocolate with Milk Chocolate and then J ordered the Italian Thick Chocolate with Dark Chocolate.

We sat down and sipped away at our mugs of steaming hot chocolate… they were so delicious and I have to say that J’s Italian Thick Chocolate is now my new favorite… (that sounds dodgy). Anyway, the chocolate wasn’t too sweet and was nice and hot. My Mexican Spicy one could have been a bit spicier but it was delicious anyway. J was pretty pleased with his choice and he would normally stay away from a hot drink in that kind of weather.

After we had dried off and consumed our drinks we were ready to get back out walking again! When I say consumed, I mean licked the cups clean…

What a way to force ourselves to stay awake and avoid jetlag. Hot chocolate in the middle of summer, I think hot chocolate anytime works really!