Wednesday, September 29, 2010
A pop-up restaurant, what a fabulous concept! WLG is a celebration of the amazing produce and chefs from New Zealand. Set in the old Bayswater Brasserie in Kings Cross, the space was transformed into a little taste of Wellington, for two weeks only. 3 courses will set you back a mere $29, a bargain in anyone’s book! And with some fabulous wines from some of Wellington’s famous boutique wine regions priced at only $7 a glass, it’s much cheaper than a plane fare to experience some of the best that Wellington has to offer. The promotion has now finished, but I wanted to share this post anyway, because I thought it was a really well put together promotion to showcase an amazing region.
Denea and I headed out last Friday night, shortly before the promotion wrapped up, knowing that they were fully booked. But we decided to try out luck and we were rewarded. We took a seat at the bar and had barely finished ordering a glass of The Doctors Riesling before we were whisked away and seated at a communal table. The menu consisted of a shared entrée, a choice of three main courses and a dessert, and was cooked by chef Rex Morgan from Boulcott Street Bistro.
The entrée was a lovely selection of savoury morsels – Lot Eight spiced olives, citrus cured King Salmon gravlax with a really delicious and unique wasabi panna cotta, fried goats cheese balls with Manuka honey and kiwifruit chutney, crispy whitebait with grilled asparagus and caper mayonnaise, and venison rillettes with spiced pear and watercress. My favourite was the goats cheese balls with the kiwi chutney, a flavour combination I never would have thought of, but that worked remarkably well.
For my main, I picked the Horopito seasoned beef with slow roasted tomato and Lot Eight virgin olive oil on potato mash. The beef was really well cooked, and deliciously tender. However for me there was something a little bit lacking about this dish. I was expecting a rich, wrinkled, saucy slow-roasted tomato, but the one on my plate was barely warm. I also think this dish would have benefited from a bit of sweetness and crunch, maybe some fried confit garlic like that which adorned the gnocchi at Circa The Prince.
Denea was particularly pleased with her choice, the Portobello mushrooms and swiss chard baked in filo with braised fennel, olives, goats curd and green lentils. She mentioned that she never usually choses the vegetarian option but was so glad she did. The flavours were deliciously balanced and complex, with the perfect blend of different textures. A really well designed dish.
For dessert, there was a celebration of coffee – Mojo coffee brulee with Whittakers chocolate and orange mousse. The brulee had a great texture and a toffee crust that gave way with a satisfying crack. I like my coffee strong and black so I’m not always a fan of creamy coffee desserts. However the chocolate orange mousse was to die for, sinfully rich with a good kick of orange. Unfortunately Denea is severely allergic and after several attempts at sweet talking the waitstaff, she was brought out a fruit platter and a couple of extra Whittakers chocolates. All in all I thought this was a great promotion. I loved the great design, the great venue, the great produce and the lovely people!
Sunday, September 26, 2010
What are you most looking forward to about summer? Perhaps you can’t wait to hit the beach, or have you planned a great holiday? Maybe you’re excited about the abundance of fresh fruit and the millions of things you can do with it? Personally, I’m looking forward to having lots of picnics, summer music festivals (bring on Southbound in Busselton! I’ve booked my flights to Perth and I’m already excited!), eating hundreds of strawberries and drinking lots of cocktails in pretty places – balconies, gardens, rooftops of heritage pubs that look out onto Sydney harbour ... you get the picture!
My drink of choice these days is Pimms, and I’ve got Betty to thank for this discovery! I love Pimms and ginger ale, with some lemon and lime wedges, strawberries and mint leaves thrown in, the most perfect drink for a warm day. The weather has been stunning lately, sunny and warm, but not too hot. Spring is definitely here! I wanted to create a dessert that combined all the components of a Pimms cocktail, but in the form of a delicious cake. Simple, yet sophisticated. This dessert ticks all the boxes.
The recipe was inspired a gorgeous cake from Sunday Suppers, which is a beautiful blog complete with stunning photography that always makes me want to host a dinner party. It’s a light and fluffy lemon and buttermilk cake that would be perfect for afternoon tea. Next time I would add a little more lemon zest, and my addition of ginger was hardly discernible at all, so I’ve upped the quantity in the recipe below to 1 teaspoon.
I decided to add Pimms and mint leaves to the strawberry compote, which worked really well together. The strawberries this year have been really sweet and juicy, and this was a fabulous way to show them off. I look forward to using them in lots of other ways over the warmer months. And it goes without saying, this dessert would be equally delicious with a cup of tea, or a jug of Pimms!
Lemon and Buttermilk Cake with Strawberry and Pimms compote
Adapted from Sunday Suppers
• 250g unsalted butter
• 2 cups raw sugar
• 4 eggs, at room temperature
• Zest of 2 lemon
• 1 teaspoon minced ginger
• 3 cups plain flour
• ½ teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• Juice of 1 lemon
• ¾ cup buttermilk
• 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line the bottom and sides of a 30x22cm cake pan (I used a 25cm round pan). Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate before adding the next one. Add lemon zest and ginger, mix to combine.
Sift dry ingredients together in a bowl and then combine lemon juice, buttermilk and vanilla in another bowl or jug. Alternate flour and buttermilk mixtures, starting and ending with flour. Mix well between each addition until fully combined. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Serve the cake in wedges, with strawberry and Pimms compote.
Strawberry and Pimms Compote
• 2 cups strawberries, hulled
• 3 tablespoons Pimms
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon caster sugar (or to taste, depending on the sweetness of the strawberries)
• 8 fresh mint leaves, julienne
Combine strawberries, Pimms, vanilla and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, stir in the mint leaves.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. I’m completely powerless against a gorgeous bunch of rhubarb. So much so, I picked one up at Harris Farm, and had to carry it around the city with me for the rest of the afternoon, all the way to The Rocks for dinner, then to Bondi, with the green leaves poking out of my handbag. I must have looked like a bit of a crazy person! But rhubarb is one of my favourite things in the world to cook with. I love the tart, tangy taste and that it can work just as well in savoury foods as in sweet ones.
Over the weekend, I was feeling poorly and wanted something that would warm me up from the inside out. Rice pudding came to mind immediately, the epitome of comfort food – warm, creamy and absolutely delicious. I have made rice pudding in the past, but wasn’t entirely happy with the recipe I used. This time I turned to the beautiful Seasonal Kitchen book I picked up a few months ago by Vogue Entertaining + Travel and Fratelli Fresh, that put all of Andy Bunn’s (chef at Café Sopra) recipes from the magazine over the years into one place – a lovely book with stunning photographs.
I adapted the recipe for Andy’s rice pudding with spiced kumquats to be simply flavoured with vanilla bean and topped with poached rhubarb. I halved the ingredients to make it serve 2-3 people, though in hindsight that wasn’t the best idea, because it was absolutely delicious and it disappeared rather quickly! This is a great base recipe, so feel free to play around and add whatever spices and toppings you like. I think it would be lovely with some fresh ginger and cinnamon sticks, and topped stewed apples or pears, but the choices are endless.
I'd also like to announce the winner of my recent Cadbury competition, to win Cadbury chocolate to the value of $50. The winner is... Phoodie for the most creative entry, I'm a sucker for an acrostic poem! Shoot me an email with your address and contact phone number to lisa (at) spicyicecream (dot) com (dot) au to claim the prize!
Thanks to everyone who participated, and thanks again to Nuffnang and Cadbury for hosting the competition.
Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding with Poached Rhubarb
Adapted from Vogue E+T Seasonal Kitchen
• 350ml pouring cream
• 150ml milk
• 75g Aborio rice
• ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
• ¼ cup sugar, or to taste
• ½ cup caster sugar
• ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
• 5-6 medium stalks rhubarb, cut into 3-4cm lengths
For the rice pudding, place cream, milk, rice and vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the rice is tender. Add sugar to taste. Discard vanilla pod and set aside for rice to absorb excess liquid.
In the meantime, dissolve sugar ¾ cup of water to the boil. Add vanilla seeds. Add rhubarb and cook for 6-8 minutes or until rhubarb is tender but keeping its shape. Remove rhubarb with a slotted spoon and set aside. Turn the heat up to high and boil remaining liquid until a syrup forms.
To serve, divide rice mixture among 2-3 bowls, top with rhubarb and spoon over the rhubarb syrup.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
And just like that, winter is over. I feel a sense of relief this time every year, like I’ve jumped a hurdle. While I’ve realised that there are things I do love about winter – buying new coats and scarves, seasonal fruit and vegetables, comfort food – I always look forward to spring when we can shed the coats and wear short sleeves again. Also around this time of year, I get a rush of inspiration from nature, and it makes me want to grow things and be outside. I remember that there is beauty in the simplest things, like a bunch of gorgeous lilac flowers, lavenders and sweet pea, which christened my Urban Outfitters bottle vases and really liven up my bedroom.
The lavender smelled so beautiful, like my Grandmother’s garden used to in spring. It reminded me that I had some dried lavender flowers that I’d picked up at Essential Ingredient. Add a little bit of honey you have the perfect combination for a sunny spring day. I based the cupcakes on a honey cake recipe, and added dried lavender and vanilla, with a delicious honey and cream cheese icing that complemented the flavours perfectly.
The cake was delicately flavoured with a subtle hint of lavender, which I prefer. Sometimes when people go overboard with flowers in food, the result can be reminiscent of Grandma’s soap, and not entirely pleasant. I think the honey and lavender flavours work amazingly together, and I can imagine the combination would also be lovely in ice cream form, perhaps served with a fruit pie or a chocolate cake.
Honey and Lavender Cupcakes
Adapted from Off the Shelf by Donna Hay
• 2/3 cup sugar
• ½ teaspoon dried lavender*
• 185g unsalted butter
• 3 tablespoons honey (floral varieties work beautifully)
• 2 eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 ½ cups plain flour, sifted
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
Honey and Cream Cheese frosting
• 250g cream cheese, softened
• ¾ cup icing sugar, sifted
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F). Place sugar and lavender in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined. In a large bowl, beat butter, lavender sugar and honey until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla extract.
Fold the flour and baking powder into the butter mixture. It should be moist/stiff but not wet. Spoon the batter into 12 x muffin papers and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool completely.
To make the cream cheese icing, place cream cheese, icing sugar and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until smooth and blended, scraping down the sides to incorporate all the ingredients. Add vanilla and beat until smooth. Use a palette knife to smooth icing onto cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with dried lavender flowers, if you like!
*Available from Essential Ingredient, David Jones Food Hall and other gourmet grocers.
Monday, September 13, 2010
What constitutes the perfect brunch spot? Does it have to be local or are you willing to travel for your breakfast? For me, there are a few factors that must be met no matter what. The first is excellent coffee; it’s the only way to start the day. As a caffeine addict, I know what I like, and it’s a brilliant strong long black with raw sugar. Another thing that is important for me is variety. Eggs seem to be the staple on every breakfast menu, but quite frankly I don’t like them. I like places that have a great variety of other breakfast foods in addition to eggs every which way. I hate being stuck with something boring, just because I opt out of the eggs.
Over the weekend, Denea and I headed out to Redfern to check out Moose General Store. The team make their own granolas and jams, with some delicious and totally unique flavour combinations like Blackberry and Sparkling Shiraz, Strawberry and Earl Grey, Rhubarb and Mulled Wine and Fig and Rum, amongst others. I loved the sound of it and the menu was positively mouthwatering. The café is particularly busy on a beautiful Sunday morning, and we table-hop a little from inside near the amazing wall of jam, until we’re seated outside at a tiny yellow tiled table that I want to steal for my own house.
The menus are pasted into Little Golden Books, which is a quirky little touch and a total throwback to my childhood, I had dozens of these! We decided that it was only right to order breakfast and lunch. We started off with Moose’s famous Belgian chocolate granola, to share. It comes served with yoghurt and jam, with skim milk on the side. This is one intense breakfast food, it was absolutely amazing but also insanely rich. In fact we saved most of it as dessert for after we finished our lunch. If anyone can manage a bowl of this on their own, they deserve a medal! Moose has also just launched an online store where you can purchase their granola and jams, or even create your own!
The pork sandwich was a must of course, with delicious free range Bok’s pork and spiced creamed corn and rocket on a white roll. The fillings were generous, and the flavours worked really well together, but I think I must have been American in my past life. I can’t go past pulled pork with coleslaw and lashings of smokey BBQ sauce. Consider this it’s springtime alternative?
The highlight for me was definitely the slow roasted Bultarra Saltbush lamb sandwich with baba ganouj and feta. It was almost a revelation. The lamb was deliciously tender, and I loved the smoky baba ganouj flavour in every bite, especially with some cracked black pepper. I could have happily polished this off all by myself.
I forgot to take a photo, but I would like to mention that the long black was two very enthusiastic thumbs up, and the brownie kindly given to us by Moose General Charbel himself was one of the best I’ve ever had, almost ganache-like in texture and absolutely wickedly good. I knew I couldn’t leave without a jar of jam, but I wasn’t expecting the choice to be quite so difficult! I grabbed the Rhubarb and Mulled Wine, which is incredible and would be delicious slathered onto a loaf of freshly baked bread or a homemade crumpet. The staff were lovely and friendly, and I know that we’ll be back for another brunch soon. For me, Moose ticks all the boxes for the perfect brunch spot.
Moose General Store & Café – 18 Cooper St, Redfern
Edit: Sad news, just days after my visit and this post, Team Moose have had to close the doors of the cafe. This makes me very sad, because it was just the kind of place Sydney needs more of, with amazing food, brilliant coffee and extremely passionate people. The jams and granolas will thankfully still be available through the online store and hopefully at the markets soon. Keep an eye on their website and twitter for updates. I wish the guys all the best! xx
Friday, September 10, 2010
This post is sponsored by Nuffnang and Cadbury
For as long as I can remember, I have always had a sweet tooth. As a kid, I loved helping my Nanna make cakes for special occasions because I would get the coveted task of licking spoons clean, and dessert has always been my favourite part of the meal. It’s easy to see that my love affair with chocolate started at an early age, and over time I’ve learned that chocolate has inherent powers. As an apology or romantic gesture, I’ll take chocolates over flowers any day, and there’s no better way to woo that special someone than with a homemade gooey chocolate fondant, baked especially for them.
Cadbury knows this well, and has married winning combinations of delicious ingredients with their signature smooth Dairy Milk chocolate to create the new Bar of Plenty chocolate range. It’s available in two different flavours: berry fruit with vanilla shortcake, and roasted hazelnuts and cashews gently flavoured with honey (my personal favourite). Bar of Plenty is now available from your local Coles, Woolworths, IGA and other selected outlets.
I wanted to use the Roast Hazelnut & Cashew in a decadent recipe, and what better than a fudgy chocolate brownie. I used my favourite brownie recipe, with the roughly chopped Bar of Plenty chocolate, and a good hit of Frangelico liqueur to complement the hazelnuts. The result was seriously good. A crispy, crackly top gave way to a rich, just cooked center, generously studded with the milk chocolate, brownies and cashews. What I like most about brownies is that they are delicious completely unadorned, but if you want a show-stopping dessert, serve with a scoop of ice cream, lashings of chocolate sauce and a glass of nice port.
I’m also thrilled to offer my readers a fabulous prize as part of this promotion! You could win Cadbury chocolate to the value of $50, perfect for sharing with your favourite chocaholic, or not sharing with anyone! All you need to do is leave a comment on this post and tell me Why are you in love with chocolate? Entries close on September 20th, and you can enter once per day. Winners will be notified here on my blog so make sure you check back to see if you’ve won this great prize. Make sure you read the Terms & Conditions at the bottom of this post before you enter.
Nutty Chocolate and Frangelico Brownies
Makes 10-12 pieces
• 200g butter
• 125g dark chocolate, chopped
• 2 cups sugar
• 4 eggs
• 1 cup plain flour
• 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
• ¼ teaspoon baking powder
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons Frangelico liqueur
• ½ cup Cadbury Bar of Plenty Roast Hazelnut & Honey Roast cashew chocolate, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Line the base and sides of a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.
Place the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat and stir until smooth. Place sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, cocoa, chocolate mixture, vanilla, Frangelico and Cadbury chocolate in a bowl and mix to combine.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until just set. Cool before cutting into squares.
Terms & Conditions
Nuffnang competition - "Why are you in love with chocolate?"
1. Information on how to enter form part of these conditions. Entry into the competition constitutes acceptance of these terms and conditions.
2. The name of the person conducting it (the promoters name, address and telephone number)
The competition will be conducted by Nuffnang Australia. Nuffnang Australia’s head office is located at 28 St Edmonds Road, Prahran VIC 3181. Please contact Nuffnang Australia via (03) 8517 2000 or email@example.com
3. Eligibility requirements (including minimum age of participants)
Entrants must live in QLD, WA, ACT, NSW, TAS or VIC to be eligible. The winner will need provide Nuffnang with their contact details in order to be eligible. Participants must be aged 14 and over.
4. How to enter
To enter the competition:
* Participants need to leave a comment on the competition post published on one of the twenty blogs participating in the competition. These blogs are:
* The comment must answer the question "Why are you in love with chocolate?” The most creative and practical answer will be chosen as the winner.
5. Description and retail value of each of the prizes (including conditions, if any, relating to receiving, accepting or using the prizes)
The prize will be products worth up to $50.
6. Closing and drawing dates and time for the receipt of entries in the lottery
The competition closes on 5pm EST on 20 September 2010.
7. The place, date and time of the lottery draw
On Tuesday 21 September 2010, the blogger will choose their own winner and inform Nuffnang Australia.
8. The method used to decide prize winners
The winner will be the entry judged most creative and practical by the judges.
9. How prize winners will be notified (face-to-face, email, phone or mail)
The winner will be notified via the blog they used to enter the competition, and will be asked to provide their email and contact phone number at that time. If they do not respond to the comment within 48 hours, Nuffnang reserve the rights to select another winner.
10. How prizes will be awarded
Once the winner has been notified, Nuffnang Australia will liaise with the winner to have the prize pack sent to them.
11. The method for claiming prizes (including requirement for entrants to be present at
To claim the prize, the winner must reply to the winner notification and accept the prize within 48 hours of the blog notification, as well as indicate their preferred address for the product to be sent. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, they will forfeit the prize, and another winner will be selected using the same judging process.
12. Whether results will be published and, if so, the way they will be published
The results will be published on the respective bloggers’ blogs and Twitter (if applicable). Nuffnang Australia also reserve the right to publish the results, including a photo of the winner, in the media.
13. Whether the prize will jackpot or be redrawn if the winning player is not present or does not claim/cannot be found (must keep for 3 months if unclaimed)
Nuffnang Australia will make all reasonable efforts to contact the prize winner. If the prize winner is uncontactable or does not respond to accept the prize within 48 hours of notification, another winner will be selected using the same judging process.
14. Who cannot participate
Nuffnang Australia’s business directors, management and employees, their immediate families, their retailers, suppliers, associated comapnies and agencies are ineligible.
15. Changes to Terms and Conditions
Nuffnang Australia reserves the right to change these terms and conditions. If any changes are made Nuffnang Australia will notify the public via its website.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
My maternal grandmother was a bit of a mystery; there is a lot that I don’t know about her. Different people knew her by different names – Grace or Marcelle. To me she was Nanny – full of love, laughs, encouragement and good advice. She taught me to share my toys with my little sister, and to keep inside the lines when I was colouring in the pictures she drew for me. It has been ten years since she passed away, but she’s still very much in my thoughts.
There are many things that remind me of her on a daily basis, from memories of our outings to the city when we’d travel by train and she would wait patiently at the bottom while I ran up and down the Opera House steps, to the pieces of crockery that I inherited (many of which are regularly featured in my photographs here). We used to play Yahtzee, and she’d whisper to the dice and help me calculate my score because I was too little to do it by myself.
But if there were one thing that reminds me of her the most, it would be self-saucing pudding. I helped her make it so many times, and it was one of my favourite desserts as a kid. A self-saucing pudding is a whole different species to what is commonly known as pudding in America. It's cake-like rather than custard-like. Boiling liquid is poured over the batter and the pudding is baked, with a cake layer on top and a rich sauce forming underneath. Unfortunately this isn’t my Nan’s recipe, I never thought to ask her for it, but one that I’ve had bookmarked from Gourmet Traveller for a long while.
I was intrigued by the combination of chocolate and chestnut and I finally got the chance to use the chestnut cream I picked up a few months back, which was an impulse purchase from a gourmet grocer in Surry Hills. It’s definitely a more sophisticated, grown-up version of a self-saucing pudding than what I used to make with Nanny, but absolutely delicious. I loved the sweet pop of the port-soaked raisins. The recipe came together really easily for an absolutely fantastic dinner party dessert. I wish I could invite my Nanny over for lunch and make it for her.
I would also like to announce the lucky winner of the GourmetRabbit competition. Congratulations to What Deliciousness, you’ve won a copy of the collector’s first issue plus a year’s online subscription to the website, so you can read full articles, enter competitions and be invited to some awesome exclusive events. Thanks to everyone who participated, you guys have sure eaten some weird and wonderful things!
Chocolate and Chestnut Self Saucing Pudding
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
• 50g raisins or dried muscatels
• 75ml port
• 340g brown sugar
• 140g butter, softened
• 2 eggs
• 100g sweetened chestnut puree
• 225g self-raising flour
• 65g Dutch processed cocoa
• ½ teaspoon baking powder
• 225ml milk
• 140g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
• Ice cream, to serve
Combine raisins or muscatels and 50ml port in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). Meanwhile, beat 200g brown sugar and butter until pale and creamy. Add eggs and chestnut puree and beat to combine. Sift over flour, 50g cocoa and baking powder. Mix to combine, then stir in milk, chocolate, raisins and liquid. Divide among 6 lightly buttered 2 cup capacity ovenproof moulds and set aside.
Combine remaining brown sugar and cocoa in a heatproof bowl, gradually add 350ml boiling water and stir until smooth and combined, then stir in remaining port. Pour over pudding batter, dividing equally among the moulds. Bake until risen and a skewer withdraws clean (15-20 minutes). Serve warm with ice cream.