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Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh

One of the recent photo challenges from WordPress was Fresh. I love fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers. I find myself wanting to cook from scratch rather than buying processed foods such as dips and marinades. I always have some fresh basil on hand to add to my cooking.

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Roasted tomato and goats cheese tart

I found this really simple, yet so tasty, tart recipe on the internet a week or so ago and knew it would be perfect for lunch with a friend last weekend. I bought a tart case from the supermarket because I knew I wouldn’t have time to make it from scratch. I love recipes where you need to roast tomatoes or capsicums because you get so much natural flavour. And the house smells beautiful when they are cooked.

Tomato and goats cheese tart - cooked

Tomato and goats cheese tart - uncooked

Tomato and goats cheese tart - tomatoes

I got this recipe from a website: http://www.savorysimple.net/roasted-tomato-and-goat-cheese-quiche/

Melba’s Restaurant, Langham Hotel

In November I went to Melba’s Restaurant for the first time in a long time. They offer an upmarket buffet overlooking Melbourne’s skyline. There are so many different stations it’s hard to eat from all of them (but many give it a try). Among them are: Sushi and Seafood, Indian, Asian, Italian, Carvery, Salads, a chocolate fountain and of course the Dessert station.

I enjoyed everything I tried, especially the Naan bread that was made by the chef while you wait. I chose the one with garlic, potato and spiced lamb. It was delicious.  I was too full to try the chocolate (I can’t believe I’m saying that now lol).

The restaurant is very elegant and refined. The staff very friendly and courteous and it made the dinner so much more enjoyable.

Click to access MELBADINNERSAMPLEMENU2012.pdf

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Melbourne’s Night Noodle Market

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November is Good Food Month in Melbourne and this is the 2nd time the Night Noodle Market has been run. It’s one of the feature events on the calendar. Held at Birrarung Marr, on the banks of the Yarra River, there are around 50 stalls run by well-known restaurants. You can wait an hour or more to get a table at some of these restaurants so just being able to walk up to a stall and try a few sample dishes is great. We got there quite late so some of the restaurants had sold out.

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We only had a chance to buy one meal so we chose the dumpling from Let’s Do Yum Cha. I introduced my Mum to the pork bun. They are an acquired taste but I have grown to like them.

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Noodle 4

Darwin Day 2: Shenanigans

Shenanigans is an Irish bar in Darwin. It’s a very popular bar in a very popular street in Darwin.  When we booked we were asked if we wanted a table indoors or out. It was a very hot day so we thought it would be nice to sit outside.  The waitress said we could sit outside because it was getting cold so the locals were starting to sit inside.  We laughed because the temperature was still in the mid 20’s all through the night.

Shenanigans salmon

Baked salmon with garlic butter and vegies. This is what I ate. The parmesan-crumbed salmon was perfectly cooked.

Shenanigans barra

Barramundi, chips and salad

Shenanigans

Red Salmon, Knox O-zone

Knox O-zone is the entertainment precinct at Westfield Knox Shopping Centre in Wantirna South.  One of the best restaurants is Red Salmon. A friend and I met there for dinner last week before going to see the Aussie movie Felony.

Red Salmon chicken envelope

Chicken Envelope. I think the parmesan rosti was my favourite part of the meal although it was all really delicious.

Grilled chicken breast stuffed with sundried tomato/
spinach/camembert cheese served on a potato &
parmesan rosti served with basil & tomato sauce

Red Salmon mountain goat

Mountain Goat – my friend’s dinner.  She love her meal too.

Slow cooked tender goat pieces cooked with tomatoes,
cinnamon, apricot, dates & exotic dry spices served
with aromatic rice & cinnamon dusted yoghurt

Full of greens frittata

full of vegies frittata

This is a really yummy vegetarian frittata that really is full of greens. It’s also gluten-free. There is a lot of zucchini and baby spinach in it as well as chives (although I left them out because I forgot to buy them). The recipe is another one I wanted to cook from the July 2014 edition of Taste Magazine. It’s quick and easy to prepare and takes around 30 mins to cook.

Recipe:

250g baby spinach
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
250g zucchini, grated
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
4 eggs
4 egg whites
100g ricotta cheese (from the deli)
2 tbs finely grated parmesan
1/4 cup fresh chives
100g bought roasted red capsicum, finely chopped (although I used semi-dried tomatoes)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180 deg Celsius. Grease a 20cm cake pan and line with baking paper. Place spinach in a heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water. Stand for 30 seconds. Refresh. Drain, squeezing excess liquid. Coarsely chop.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic. Cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Stir in the zucchini and lemon rind for 2 mins or until zucchini is bright green. Cool.

Whisk eggs, egg whites, ricotta and parmesan in a bowl. Stir in zucchini mixture, spinach and two-thirds of the chives. Pour into pan. Bake for 25-30 mins or until set.

Combine capsicum and remaining chives in a bowl. Serve with the frittata (although I cooked the semi-dried tomatoes on the frittata).

Caffe La Via

Caffé La Via has been on my friend’s and my dining list for a few months now. It’s a nice little Italian restaurant in busy Glenferrie Rd, Malvern. The décor isn’t really Italian and it was a little bit chilly inside but a nice glass of Yering Station chardonnay cured that quickly. I like eating out on Monday nights because you get to try a restaurant or café when they are not busy compared to a weekend. Some parts of Melbourne become ghost towns after 5pm on Mondays. A lot of eateries don’t open after the busy weekend which is understandable but they are missing out on an opportunity.

Cafe La Via Spinaci
This was my dinner – Spinaci. It is hand-rolled gnocchi, tossed in extra virgin olive oil and garlic with baby spinach, cherry tomatoes and finished off with bocconcini. I loved it. It was quite light and very tasty. Tossing it in the olive oil gave it a really nice flavour.

Cafe La Via Jojo burger
My friend ate the JoJo wagyu mince burger. It’s a grilled wagyu pattie served on a brioche bun, with cheese, beetroot relish, grilled pineapple and served with chips. The fat chips were made from a really nice potato and were very tasty.

La Via on Urbanspoon

Burch and Purchese….more yummy treats

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Raspberry, Laurent Perrier Champagne, Peach & Lemon. Raspberry jam, lemon curd, blood peach cream, raspberry compote, white chocolate and raspberry blondie, champagne jelly, champagne and white chocolate mousse.

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Green tea, Blackcurrant, Yuzu and White Chocolate.
Pistachio cake, pistachio cream, blackcurrant cream, green tea meringue, yuzu curd, vanilla & white choc mousse, white choc velvet spray, micro green tea sponge. I hadn’t heard of Yuzu before but it’s a Japanese citrus fruit. The fruit has a strong scent which can be smelled across a room.

The Stokehouse: Iconic Melbourne restaurant burns down.

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Yesterday I was one of many people that were very sad to hear that this beautiful, iconic restaurant in the beachside suburb of St Kilda had burned down on Friday night. So many people have celebrated special occasions in this fine-dining restaurant. I celebrated my 40th birthday there. It was very memorable because of the food, service and the view of Port Phillip Bay on a hot, Summer day. The building itself was a 110 year old weatherboard building that looked like a beach house. I believe the owners are going to rebuild and I look forward to going again when it reopens.

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Yoghurt, berry and oat breakfast trifle

Yoghurt, berry and oat breakfast trifle

I came across this recipe the other day when I was looking for filling, healthy breakfasts on http://www.weightloss.com.au. It’s very simple to make and very filling. I made it for my breakfast today and I’m sure it’s going to be quite a while before I need to eat anything else.

Ingredients:
50g rolled oats
50g sultanas (or other dried fruits)
200g tub of strawberry yoghurt (or any other flavour)
100g strawberries (or any other fresh fruit)

To make it I poured the yoghurt in the bowl, mixed in the oats and sultanas then layed the strawberries on top. I made it at home and took it to work to allow the oats to soften.

Strawberries and Cream Sponge Cake

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I made this sponge cake for an afternoon tea at work last week. Originally it was going to be a double-layer sponge but once we realised there were going to be a lot of people coming I decided to do single layers so everyone could get a piece.

The sponge is very simple to make and turned out really light and fluffy. The ingredients are:

6 eggs
3/4 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup self-raising flour (sifted)
1/3 cup plain flour (sifted)
300ml thickened cream
1 or 2 punnets of strawberries (hulled and cut in half)

Method:

Lightly grease and line 2 sponge pans
Place eggs in a large bowl and beat for 2 minutes.
Gradually add the sugar and beat for a further 5 minutes until pale.
Use a metal spoon to fold in the sifted flours and 2 tablespoons of hot water.
Divide the mixture between the two pans and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 20-25 mins. Set aside to cool.

Whip cream with a few drops of vanilla essence and 1 tablespoon of caster sugar until it is thick.

Spread the cream and lay the strawberries cut side down on one sponge. Put the other sponge on top then spread cream and lay strawberries on top.

Zucchini fritters

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This is the first time I’ve made these. In the past I thought I mightn’t like them but they are delicious. I know what I’ve been missing.

I got the recipe from one of my favourite websites: http://www.weightloss.com.au/healthy-recipes/lunch-recipes/zucchini-fritters-recipe.html. They have a lot of healthy recipes.

Fettucine with Prawns and Vegetables

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I came across a recipe on a website last yesterday while looking for something different. I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately when it comes to recipes. I haven’t liked any of my old recipes. The recipe inspired me to make this.

Ingredients:

120g fettucine
150g prawns
I carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, grated
50g beans, sliced
1/2 red capsicum, thinly sliced
2 tbs ketcap manis (Indonesian soy sauce)
1 tbs soy sauce
2 cloves garlic

Method:

While the fettucine is cooking, lightly fry the vegies then put aside on a plate. Meanwhile cook the prawns for 1-2 mins on each side. Once cooked, add the vegies back in and cook until they are warmed up. Add the sauces. Warm through. When the fettucine is cooked, drain then put it back in the saucepan. Add the vegies and stir through to combine.

Serves 4.

Impossible Savoury Pie

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This is one of those recipes where you can use vegies in your fridge that are getting near their end. I made it for lunch and chopped zucchini, carrot, onion and threw in some feta cheese and sundried tomatoes.

It’s quick and easy to make too.

After chopping the vegies, put them in a bowl. Add 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, 5 lightly beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon of mixed herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything together and pour into a greased pie dish. Bake in a moderate oven for 45 mins or until lightly browned. Serve with salad.

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Cows cheese and bacon pasta sauce

Cows cheese and Bacon pasta sauce

It’s not often I make up my own recipes but as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. This was supposed to be Ricotta and Bacon pasta sauce but I forgot to buy some ricotta cheese on the way home from work. I wasn’t going to put any cheese in it but remembered I had some House Cow cheese from my favourite dairy, the Yarra Valley Dairy. I also didn’t bother to measure because I like to cook free-form when I can. If I’m trying a new recipe I will follow it to the letter but afterwards I don’t bother.

The ingredients are:
short cut bacon (chopped into approx 1cm pieces)
1/2 can tomatoes
2 spring onions (roughly chopped)
pasta (spaghetii or fettucine are what I normally use)
House Cow, ricotta or any other cheese with a strong taste that melts easily

While the pasta is cooking I lighlty fry the bacon and spring onions then add the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes are warmed through the pasta is ready. I drain the pasta then pour the bacon mixture into the pasta and add the cheese, stirring to ensure it melts. You don’t want to melt it entirely so I normally leave it in there long enough to warm it through.

Voila! It’s that easy. It’s a dish that can easily be made for one or many.

Yering Station Farmer’s Market

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This well-known market is held on the third Sunday of every month in the Yarra Valley. I haven’t been there for just over a year and had well and truly used up everything I’d bought there. I was able to stock up on my jams and sauces. A lot of stalls had changed and unfortunately some of the ones I loved last time were no longer there but there were some great new stalls. You can buy all types of fresh produce; filled pastas, fruit, vegies, meats, cheese as well as the normal cafe-style cakes and biscuits.

I was able to find some Boysenberry Jam. It’s very hard to find it in any shops and markets so I was really pleased to come across it at one of the stalls. I find it hard to by things like that in the supermarket these days. I tend to buy them from markets because they have so much taste.

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The Lobster Cave

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My favourite dish – Seared lobster tails

It’s been over a year (I think) since I’ve been to the Lobster Cave. They had a special 3 course menu for weeknights so we decided to go there. It was very busy for a Thursday night. I love the cave-like atmosphere (the dark ceiling glitters with tiny lights). So many restaurants these days forget about the ambience of a restaurant. Not the Lobster Cave. And once again the service was outstanding.

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Salt and Pepper Calamari

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The wine glasses are huge. The menu included a bottle of wine and the attentive waiter kept filling our glasses. I had to be very careful because I was driving.

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Tasmanian Smoked Salmon

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Beetroot salad

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Strawberry Cheesecake

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Creme Brulee

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Complimentary port and chocolates

Lobster Cave on Urbanspoon