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Nip it in the Bud December 24, 2009

Filed under: Home Cookery,random — Dobsessed @ 8:03 am
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One of my favourite things to order from a menu is pork belly, I love the crispy crunchy crackling and the fatty meat, full of flavour.  I invited KK over to dinner and decided to try my hand at this ‘cheap’ meat.  I went to the butcher’s and got a nice big slab of pork belly and went home.

The recipe I was following was Gordon Ramsey’s Pressed Pork Belly.  I love Gordon Ramsey recipes, though sometimes a bit process-y, they always taste delicious.  It said to score the fat and rub oil, salt and pepper on it, as I was doing this, I noticed that there were a few nipples on the slab of meat.  Makes sense when you think about it.

Now, I’ve never come across what to do with nipples on a piece of meat (for eating) or seen on TV what you do with nipples.  Do you trim it? Or leave it on? As my hands were slicked with oil, I decided to just leave the nipples on there…and in case you were wondering, there were definitely not mistaken them for nipples.

I promptly forgot about the nipples when it came to eating the pork belly, they were delicious, and the crackling crunchy and the nipples were too.

I went to work and asked some of my foodie colleagues and most of them were disgusted by my question, so we Googled it.  If there are nipples, you’re suppose to clip them off, and if there are hair, you have to singe them off with a blow torch…luckily, my pig was hairless…so I must apologise to my friend KK for serving her pig nipples for dinner.  She told me it was delicious.

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Rocksalt | Broadbeach | Gold Coast December 17, 2009

Rocksalt


Driving for an hour just to eat may seem a bit extreme to some, but it is definitely worth it when the food is this good.

My friend and I went to the Gold Coast on the weekend to dine at Rocksalt.  The chef/owner has won the People’s Choice Award for Best Chef in Queensland two years in a row, with an accolade like that, I had higher than usual expectations.

We got there at around 1 o’clock and the restaurant was not overly busy.  The clientele was mostly of posh-type middle to retired aged men and women.  The men had round extended bellies, combed hair, gold chains, heavy chunky watches and designer sunglasses, the women, big pooffy hair, Botox, earrings the size of a corolla and huge twinkling rings on manicured fingers.

There was one very efficient waiter who waltzed around the small café-like restaurant who had the air of superiority whilst still being friendly and apologetic.

Rocksalt is a Modern Australian and I would class as a Seafood restaurant, the menu was heavy in seafood, and all looked delicious.  When we went, they had a lunch special, choose any three courses for $59 – excellent value considering their mains range from about $38 to $44.

I had to order the bread because the whole roasted garlic just called out to me.   It was absolutely delicious, served on a bread board, it was hot, crusty topped and soft on the inside, the bread came with a dish of salted butter and a dish of the oil, vinegar and garlic combination.  The soft butter, with the garlic and the sweetness of the balsamic was absolutely delicious, could seriously just eat that for my lunch.

My friend’s entrée was rare tuna and came beautifully plated and was very light and refreshing, I only had a small taste but I loved my entrée of chilled prawns with pork belly and an Asian mango salad.  The salad was crisp and fresh and the sweetness of the mango went very well with the saltiness of the crisp pork belly and the cashew nuts.  I was a bit disappointed that the prawns had not been properly deveined but the slight spiciness and the crunch went beautifully together.

Our cocktails came after our entrees, perhaps the lone waiter was also the lone barman? Nothing to rave home about though, the cocktails were a bit weak in my opinion.

My main on the other hand was.  On the waiter’s recommendation, I’d opted for the bugs, prawn and scallop saffron risotto and it was delicious – and I don’t even usually like risotto.  The prawns were plump (deveined) and not rubbery, the scallops were raw, fresh and sweet, the bugs tender, all coated with the delicious saffron cream sauce.  It was very rich, I couldn’t finish all the rice but I enjoyed all the bites I did.  The greens were slightly wilted and yellow rather than green but I’m just being picky.

My friend’s fish of the day dish looked really good…but I didn’t try it because I need to save some room for dessert.

Desserts we ordered were a banana and passionfruit tarte tartin with pashmak and a ‘strawberries and cream’ vanilla panna cotta served with strawberries.

The tarte tartin had a crisp bottom and was served with caramel sauce, it was really good, but I felt it got a bit sweet towards the end, may serving it with King Island cream rather than ice-cream would’ve been better?  The panna cotta was very wobbly, again, slightly too sweet for me, but very nice but tasted more like orange and cream rather than strawberries as the fruit was strong in orange.

Delicious meals,  some great people watching and I’d definitely make the drive again.

 

Anise | 697 Brunkswick Street | New Farm December 14, 2009

Filed under: Fine Dining,Food review — Dobsessed @ 8:28 pm
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Anise


Brisbane may be the capital city of Queensland, comprising of around two million people (and that is Greater Brisbane area) but seriously, the nightlife in Brisbane is pretty abysmal. Some McDonald’s close up shop by 10pm and you’d be hard pressed to find a restaurant with a kitchen that is open after 9pm on a Friday or Saturday night.

I was pleasantly surprised last Friday when I was ringing around to make a last minute dinner reservation to be offered a table at Anise for three at 9:30pm on a Friday night? A kitchen that is open and willing to serve people seated at 9:30? Surely not! I made it clear I wasn’t just after a tipple, and sure enough, we were seated at 9:30 and offered menus.

The restaurant isn’t a ‘restaurant’ as such…it looks more like a cozy bar. In fact, the tables were all at the bar with high stools and seats 15 people. There was a little lounge/couch area at the front that could fit six people at a stretch, but the place is small. They had an extensive wine list, and we got a Spanish wine (which was delicious with our food) that the waiter (who could have possibly been drunk – either that, or he like rubbing his own chest a lot) recommended.

Their menu is French with sweet breads, escargots listed on the menu. I love veal sweet breads and ordered that and it was absolutely delicious – tender, full of flavour and very generous portions. I know throat glands of a veal calf doesn’t sound particularly appetizing, but trust me when I say, it’s good. No one should ever bypass that because it sounds ‘gross’.

My friends’ entrée of confit of trout with zucchini flowers and a Roquefort and cauliflower soufflé were also spot on and amazing. The trout was pink, the flakes of fish came off in thick pieces and the soufflé was rich in cheese, but light at the same time.

My main of double roasted duck was on point. Two generous legs of duck that was meltingly tender, fall of the bone good, with a thick layer of tasty duck fat with crisp skin, it went perfectly with the pear. We also got a side of duck fat potatoes with truffle salt. Best. Potatoes. Ever. I love truffles, I understand completely why it costs $2560 a kilo or is it £2560 a kilo? Either way, it was brown, crunch on the outside, fluffy like light mashed potatoes on the inside, and as you finished eating it, the aroma of earthy truffles. Doesn’t get any better.

My friend ordered saddle of rabbit, which I thought was a bit dry. The meat was stringy but tasted like chicken, and I had to take a sip of water before I could swallow it…back to my duck it was. I prefer my meat to just melt on my tongue like butter thanks.

I was way too full for dessert, so we shared one dessert between the three of us – Turkish delight semi-freddo. It came with a crisp filo pastry top and bottom and although nothing mind blowing, it was good to end the rich meal with something light and sweet.

I can’t stop raving about this restaurant; I think I might even go back next weekend.

Anise on Urbanspoon

 

Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies December 8, 2009

I got this very easy and delicious recipe from D-Boy.  I don’t know where he got it from, but I love it and I will add it to my cooking/baking repitoire.  I promised I’d make these for him this weekend, and I’d say they went down very well.  The middle is gooey and soft, the cheesecake layer swirled through it stops it from being too coyingly sweet.  The top is slightly flakey and it is good.

It’s not the prettiest thing to look at, but trust me. It’s delicious.  My version is gluten free and it absolutely does not taste it, you can definitely just go with normal flour if that’s easier.

250g of Dark Chocolate

200g of butter, softened

1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar

4 eggs

1/2 cup of gluten free self-raising flour, sifted

1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa, sifted

250g of lite cream cheese

1/4 cup of caster sugar

125g of frozen raspberries – I don’t see why fresh ones wouldn’t work though

Preheat oven to 170C, line your brownie pan.

Melt your chocolate, I did mine in the microwave on medium in 30 second bursts.

Beat the butter and the brown sugar until creamy.  Add three of the eggs and beat well after each addition. Fold in the flour, the cocoa and the melted chocolate.

In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and the caster sugar, add the egg and mix well.  Lite cream cheese is a lot softer than full fat ones, so it won’t take long.  Fold in the raspberries.

Put 2/3 of the chocolate batter on the bottom of the tin, and the put all the cream cheese mixture over it, top this off with the remaining chocolate batter and use a skewer and swirl it around.  Bake for 50 minutes.

EAT.

 

Southside Yum Cha. Landmark Vs Sangrila December 6, 2009

I love Yum Cha.  It’s often hectic, long lines, rude waiters, sometimes lukewarm food, but I never turn it down.  I love how trolley’s of food go past and you get a nice surprise sometimes when you’re not expecting it.

There’s a few Yum Cha places I frequent, there’s one in the Valley – Golden Palace, which is okay, but nothing to write home about.  There’s one in the city (of Brisbane), China City, which is in the Lennon’s hotel, across from the Myer Centre.  I like that China City during the work week on my lunch break, their prawns are always plump and maybe it’s the fact that have city folk clientelle, their service is always decent.

When I go to Sunnybank (it’s like a mini Asian Town), I usually go to Landmark.  Landmark is one of those restaurants that cater to big, expensive weddings (I’ve been there a couple of times for their wedding banquents, and they do it well – 10 courses usually including lobster, abalone…).  Anyways, for Yum Cha, Landmark is insanely busy.  The restaurant opens at 10am, and on a Saturday morning, at 9:45, there is a huge queue of about 30 people or so people waiting, at 11 o’clock, you’ll be waiting a good 30 minutes and it is like this every weekend.

As Landmark is so busy, I guess they can afford to be rude, when I went there last, we asked the waiter for more tea and water, and he promptly replied (and not too nicely), “Not enough hands man!” and stormed off…what the??  The trolley girls are lack-lustre and must be completely over it.  Waiting for what you want to eventually come to you may take a while (it is a big restaurant) so there’s an area where people can take their cardboard Yum Cha tally card to and pick what they have available – I usually go there for the custard tarts.

My usual Yum Cha order are Rice Noodle rolls with BBQ pork 豬腸粉, sticky rice 糯米雞, egg custard tarts 蛋撻, Turnip cake 蘿蔔糕…there’s usually a bunch of other stuff too, but these are my usual favourite.  The food here is pretty good, I like all the Yum Cha things on offer here, and I must say their turnip cakes are delicious and their egg custard tart pastries, one of the best, flakey, buttery and usually hot and delicious.  The last time I went to China City, their egg tarts were burnt and cold.  The food is great, it is hustle and bustle, and the service is brusque  but the long wait at times deter me if I am not craving Yum Cha.  They even charge you a DOLLAR if you request extra soy sauce and chilli! Ridiculous.

I went to Sangrila for Yum Cha today for the first time.  It’s housed in a non-descript peach coloured building right next to Little Taipei Food Court, and the block looks like it should be a bunch of offices .  As you walk in,  it looks like it is still undergoing some renovations.  We were given a number when we went in, it was full, but it definitely wasn’t crazy busy.  Everybody who were waiting were able to seat and wait in a civilised manner.  At Landmark, people crowd around the entrance like crazy shoppers before Myer opens for Boxing Day Sales.  We were seated after about 10 – 15 minutes in a little room…some trolley people miss us, they never brought my water and we never got the soy sauce and chili sauce.  We didn’t eat as much of the food, but the couple of dishes we tried were all really good.  The spare ribs with black beans sauce were delicious, slippery and not just lumps of fat.  The fried prawn dumplings were crunchy, full of plump prawns and the mayo was nice…not too sweet like translucent Kraft mayo, definitely had the taste of kewpie mixed with a bit of fruit salad taste to it.  The sticky rice, delicious, perhaps the portions were slightly smaller than Landmark?   The service were a lot better, when I asked the girl at the front how long the wait would be, she smiled and answered honestly – Amazing! I don’t even usually get eye-contact from the sullen girl at Landmark!  The trolley girls were a lot more enthusiastic.

Overall, next time I want Yum Cha, sure I might go to Landmark first – food is good…but if I don’t want to wait for 40 minutes, get aggravated by rude staff (I am irritated very easily) I’d definitely give Sangrila a go – it doesn’t have crystal chandeliers, and it’s not plush, but the food is pretty good.

 

Adriano Zumbo’s Panna Cotta December 1, 2009

I. Am. Sick.

So, why the hell am I cooking? Well…if you read my dieting blog: Love My Fries, Hate My Thighs, you’ll know that I went to Bread Top and I bought a bag of taro fill buns, a bag of butter coconut buns and a taro gateaux and ate them and got horribly sick.  I decided to make Panna Cotta for a number of reasons:

1. I had all the ingredients in my ‘Baking Box’.

2. I’ve been wating to try out the gelatin leaves and the dariole molds I bought.

3. I need to have something to eat to stop myself from eating the rest of those breads!!

I’ve never made Panna Cotta before, and after make this within 10 minutes, I think they’re rather easy, I still manage to stuff mine up because I caramelised the sugar too long and they burned so my panna cotta, though absolutely perfect in texture – it wobbled like a woman’s breast (though, I must admit, a lot more firmer than my breast, so let’s assume a 20 year old’s perky breast) and had the smoothest texture ever.  If it weren’t burnt, it would’ve been truly delicious.

My dariole molds were aluminium (I figured I could use it to make chocolate fondants or sticky date puddings etc etc) but it made it a bit hard to pop the panna cotta out of the molds.  I ended up heating the sides of the molds with my blow torch and inserting a thin knife and tapping it so it plopped out onto the plate.  Plopped. Yes, that’s exactly what it did.  I also didn’t have any nutmeg, so I just omited it.

Adriano Zumbo’s Panna Cotta (this was a pressure test on Masterchef) – This is what I did:

1/4 cup of caster sugar

1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped

250 ml of pure cream

1 gelatin leaf

I put the cream in a sauce pan heated it on medium high heat.  I put the sugar and the vanilla bean and seeds in a dry pan and cooked it until it caramelised.  This is where I overdid it and burnt the caramel, but the goal is to not burn it.  Add the warm cream to the caramel and stir.  WARNING: It was sputter, so don’t pour all the cream in at once.

Soak the gelatin in water until soft.  Squeeze out excess water and add it to the cream mixture.  I’d never used gelatin before, so didn’t know what to expect, for me, it was like picking up slimy jelly, so don’t worry, not much water will ‘squeeze’ from it.

Strain the mixture through a fine sieve and cool the bowl in iced water.  I didn’t have this so I just cooled it in a bowl with some cold water, I didn’t do this step long enough though because when I poured the mixture in the dariole molds, it was still quite hot.

Leave it in the fridge til set – took way longer than an hour for me.

This is a small recipe, it only filled two molds, I’m going to double the recipe to make 4 tomorrow.