Monday, December 20, 2010

eat, drink and be merry: saturday night

"A man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry."
Ecclesiastes 8: 15


To eat

Personally, I would never eat a kebab when I'm sober, but when the inside of your mouth tastes like vodka and a hoarse throat, there is nothing better in this world than a good döner kebab with melted cheese and an ice-cold can of coke.

Furthur scientific evidence from Wikipedia: The "late night kebab" has become an icon of urban food culture in Australia, with kebabs often purchased and consumed following a night of drinking. Kebabs are considered suitable following consumption of alcohol due their high content of lipids (fats) which aids in metabolism of alcohol.


To drink

Beer is beer. Wine is wine. Goon is goon (and goon is disgusting). You open the can, bottle or big bogan-looking ugly silver bag and away you go.

But making cocktails takes creativity, like art. With bit of skill and a little flare you can turn a few ingredients into something that tastes damn good and looks damn fine.



Michel's "Mali-Melon" Martinis
Serves 2

2 oz Malibu
2 oz Pimm's No. 1 Cup
2 slices watermelon
1 cup apple juice
1 cup crushed ice

Process ingredients in an ice blender on the finest setting to a smooth consistency. Coat rim of martini glass with sugar syrup and dip in caster sugar. Pour contents of blender into glass to the rim and garnish with slice of watermelon.



To be McMerry

All good things come in threes: so next time you go for after-clubbing maccas, do yourself a favour and get an apple pie, a soft serve cone and a packet of cookies. And all for a low price of $3.75.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

would you like some breakfast with your butter, madame?


Ah, the Subi Hotel; that lovely, quaint old building on Rokeby Road which is the spirtual (as in tequila) homeland of frustrated Cheek-goers when the line outside Red Sea becomes too foul to bear.

As it turns out, they also do a delicious french toast.


Annie and I decided to hit up this place for breakfast to start off our epic day of boutique shopping on Tuesday morning. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and instrumental to the success or failure of any strenuous undertaking. We picked a table outside in a shady corner, and had the whole garden to ourselves. It was that beautiful summer morning kind of air: cool and crisp, not a trace of humidity and lots of sunlight. Everything on the tables was so white, clean and simple.


The Subi Hotel restaurant wasn't so busy, about half were business folk and the other half were your standard golden triangle couples in their forties, going about their daily business of chewing toast, reading newspapers, sipping lattes and what not. It was classy, but very chilled - the ambient jazz playing took care of that.

Our waiter was, for want of a better word, a dweeb. But such a polite, earnest and attentive dweeb he was! But seriously, genuine (even if a little awkward) customer service is better than posh, stuffy customer service, in my wannabe foodie opinion. Being a waitress in my past life, I always make an effort to show that I appreciate good customer service, because I know it can be hard when you try to take someone's order and they treat you like Dobby the house-elf. For this reason, I am constantly being accused of flirting with waitstaff, which I maintain is all misinterpretation... except for the staff at Jean Pierre Sancho on Hay Street.

But honestly, can you blame me!?



For drinks, Ann had a Chai Latte ($3.5), and I had my usual SLMXH($4.2) which I ordered traditional, so as to save space in my belly for more things to come. I hadn't had any coffee for weeks, because I'd been combating the effects of caffeine resistance that had built up during exam time. The amount of crema on that thing was ridiculous and I loved it. The brew was rich, nutty and satisfying. Oh Macchiato, how I missed you.



We ordered the Smoked Salmon en concotte with toasted New Norcia organic sourdough ($18). It was one of the richest breakfast dishes I've ever had (no mean feat, considering some of the things Michèl cooks up on Sunday mornings because I'm too 'skinny').

The word en cocotte is French, usually seen as in 'oeufs en concotte', which is literally 'egg casserole'. It's an egg baked in a ramekin with butter, salt, and with some versions, also with cream and truffle oil. With the yolk still runny, of course.




Smoked salmon is a delicacy, sliced thinly and used sparingly, partly because it's quite expensive and partly because it's just so rich. But in this dish, it came in thick layers, and lots of them, baked in generous lashings of cream, butter, wilted spinach and topped with two bright yellow eggs. Even the toast was buttered to hell. I'm glad that me and Ann had opted to order two dishes and split them, because there is no way either of us could have finished that big boy on our own.



For our second course, we ordered the Brioche French Toast with Berries and Maple Syrup ($15). Brioche is also French, which is a very rich type of bread, most recipes having a flour to butter ratio of 2:1. That, fried in an egg-and-cream batter and topped with colourful, summery deliciousness made for a gorgeous dish. It was a nice balance of sweet and savoury, and that berry sauce was thin, intense and heavenly.

We butchered it.



We ended up walking out of the Subi Hotel at almost 12 noon, having eaten so much, so slowly. Not to mention about an hour's worth of constant chatter, updating each other about our lives over the last few months. It was such a enjoyable way to pass the morning: no uni, no assignments, no exams, no work, no worries, no nothing. Just me, a dear old friend, a big breakfast and the blissful realisation that we had just blown a lot of money and calories on one breakfast...

...and there was absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

summer fruit flans


These little babies of mine have multiple recipe origins: Modern Classics 2 by Donna Hay ($39.95), The Masterchef Cookbook Vol. 1 ($39.95) and Ultimate Cake by Barbara Maher ($42). I couldn't find a recipe that I quite liked the most, so I just made a frankensteinian version that was a combination of all three. And of course, I also received visual inspiration from, slash, I plaigiarised the Fruit Flans at Miss Maud.

Next time I'll make the pastry thinner and paint a layer of melted chocolate on the inside of the pastry instead of jam. And my crème pâtissière wasn't as smooth as I would have liked... but I like to think, not bad for a first try!

Pastry
• 2 cups plain flour
• 3 tbsp caster sugar
• 150g cold butter, chopped
• 2-3 tbsp iced water
• Egg white for brushing


Crème Pâtissière
• 2 cups milk
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 4 egg yolks
• ¼ caster sugar


Fruit topping
• Summer fruit
• 2 tbsp fruit jam, sieved.
• ½ cup sugar
• ¼ cup water
• 2 tsp powdered gelatine dissolved in 1 tbsp water



Pastry

1. Process flour, sugar and butter in food processor until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. While motor running, add enough iced water to form a smooth dough and process until just combined. Knead dough lightly, clingwrap and refrigerate for 30 mins.



2. Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface paper 2-3mm thick.
Using floured fingers, carefully ease pastry into bottom and up sides of tin. Prick all over with fork, then chill for 1 hour (you can make the Crème Pâtissière and glaze meanwhile).


3. Preheat oven to 180C. Blind bake with baking paper weighed down with uncooked rice or beans for 10 minutes, then remove weights and bake a further 10 minutes or until pastry golden. Empty onto wire rack to cool, and brush with egg white while still hot to seal.




Crème Pâtissière

1. Place milk and vanilla extract in saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to boil.
2. Whisk yolks and sugar in separate bowl until thick and pale. Add cornflour and whisk to combine. Slowly pour in hot milk, whisking continuously.


3. Pour mixture back into saucepan over medium-high heat and simmer rapidly while whisking continuously for 5 minutes or until thick.
4. Place non-stick baking paper or plastic wrap directly onto surface of pastry cream to cover and set aside to cool.


Fruit Topping

1. Place sugar and water in small saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolved.
2. Add gelatine and cook for 1 min. Set aside to cool.
3. When completely cooled, brush flan bases with jam, spoon crème pâtissière into base and arrange fruit on top.
4. Spoon glaze evenly over fruit so it forms a seal, leave to set. Refrigerate to set.