Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mac and Cheese, plus 13 ways with Gruyere

gruyere and fontina mac and cheese gruyere-title.jpg
It's no secret that I loooove cheese. I could spend an hour in front of the epic wall of cheese at Harris Farm. You may have noticed that I don't often do savoury recipes here, but be sure that when I do they are really something special. I hope you enjoy this round up of cheesy recipes from some of my favourite food blogs!

13 ways with gruyere

1. This thing of beauty was inspired by a wonderfully comforting Cheese Toastie we had at a dinner together at Gazebo Wine Garden. Steph from Raspberri Cupcakes take on it included sweet roasted garlic and oozy gruyere. Yes please!!

2. There is red hot competition for the title of Sydney's best burger and Rockpool's with bacon, gruyere and Zuni pickles rates pretty highly! I didn't manage to try it on my recent visit to Rockpool Bar & Grill in Perth (which you'll hear more about soon, promise) but I'll definitely be heading to the Sydney restaurant soon. Just look at that burger!

13 ways with gruyere
Picture Credits: Citrus and CandyTartelette

3. I can tell you firsthand how amazing the Gnocchi a la Parisienne is at Tastevin restaurant in Darlinghurst. Karen from Citrus and Candy made a beautiful version of it. The most interesting thing about this dish is that the 'gnocchi' is actually choux pastry, not made from potato. Note to self, try this at home... And make another reservation at Tastevin soon!

4. One of the ultimate comfort foods is French Onion Soup, especially as its getting colder by the day here in Sydney. Helene's version is stunning, especially when topped with steaming hot, deliciously melty gruyere toasts.

13 ways with gruyere
Picture Credits: Cannelle et Vanille & Donna Hay

5. I love the idea of these unique Apple, Gruyere and Sage Muffins from Cannelle et Vanille to accompany a bowl of  hot pumpkin soup. I imagine these would also be quite adaptable - substituting pear for apple, or perhaps adding in some bacon and changing up the herbs. Yum!

6. If Stuffed Zucchini Flowers are on a restaurant menu, it's fairly likely that they'll end up in front of me - especially if they're filled with cheese! I've never tried making them at home, but this recipe from Donna Hay looks particularly lovely.

13 ways with gruyere
Picture Credits: Spicy Icecream & Gourmet Traveller

7. This is a bit of a blast from the past, dug up out of the archives, but i had to share these Gougéres from the Tartine cookbook again because they were delicious. The perfect bite-size appetizer washed down with a glass of wine, you'll find it impossible to stop at just one. I also really liked the combination of gruyere and thyme.

8. I remember the very first time I tried a Gruyere Souffle at Ripples in Pyrmont, it was amazing! Being the twice-baked kind, it's a little easier for a home cook and every bit as delicious. I'm keeping this recipe from Gourmet Traveller on file for my next dinner party.

13 ways with gruyere
Picture Credits: Eat Little Bird & Williams-Sonoma

9. Savoury waffles is an interesting concept - usually I douse mine in ice cream and maple syrup! Eat Little Bird brings us Waffles with Gruyere and Thyme, which started as a way to use up leftovers in the fridge but I think it sounds like a delicious lunch. Note to self - buy a waffle maker!

10. Okay, so I've never actually eaten a Popover but by the sound of them, I think they'd be delicious - especially with Gruyere! The recipe from Williams-Sonoma suggests serving them with steak, which sounds like a beautiful modern take on the classic Yorkshire pudding.

13 ways with gruyere
Picture Credits: Real Simple & My Recipes

11. Bacon. Gruyere. Meatloaf. Yes please! This recipe from Real Simple dresses up the humble meatloaf into a delicious gourmet dinner. This would be lovely with a simple green salad.

12. I recently expressed my new found love of bread and butter pudding, and this Pear and Gruyere Strata layered with cinnamon bread from My Recipes looks delicious! I think it would be lovely for brunch or dessert, with a big scoop of ice cream.

gruyere and fontina mac and cheese
13. Mac and Cheese is a guilty pleasure of mine. I mean the nasty microwave stuff - so bad it's good right? But absolutely nothing beats homemade, even some fancy restaurant versions I've recently tried! In my opinion Mac and Cheese is best when baked with a scattering of breadcrumbs so the top gets nice and crisp.

I like experimenting with different cheeses and I think this version with Gruyere, Fontina and a smidge of Reggiano is a winner, but feel free to experiment with your favourite cheese varieties - the original recipe used an intriguing chilli-flavoured cheddar.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Movida Next Door, Melbourne

movida next door
I have such a love/hate relationship with restaurants that don't take bookings. When we were in Melbourne earlier this year, Chin Chin was high on the 'to eat' list. I knew we'd have to arrive early but when we showed up before 6pm we were told that we could have a table for 2 at 10.30! Whaaaat?! Quickly escaping, I remembered that Movida Next Door was around the corner, where we were quickly seated by a lovely waiter and within minutes had glasses of sangria in our hands. Much better.

movida next door
The restaurant is cozy but as it quickly filled up had a great atmosphere. I liked sitting by the window and watching the hustle and bustle of Flinders Street. I'm going to start by saying that all the food was just great. I cant believe that over my many many trips to Melbourne over the years, that this was my first time at Movida. And ironically, our visit happened on the same day that we had lunch at Paco's Tacos, Frank Camorra's newest venture (which was great - I promise I'll share more on that soon!) It just makes me even more excited that there are plans underway for a Movida in Sydney. Oh yes, it's about time.

movida next door
We started with some tapas and then moved on to Raciones - larger dishes to share between two - all the while our Sangria glasses never ran dry. The Bomba were delicious bites of potato and chorizo fried and served with a spicy sauce. I could have eaten ten.

movida next door
I loved the Chorizo and Fried Padron Pepper sandwich, not only were they totally cute, but it was an explosion of flavours that worked really well together. It was definitely not the most ladylike thing to eat but entirely worth the messy fingers. I was actually expecting it to be a little more spicy because of the whole peppers inside but it was just fine for my generally pathetic chilli tolerance level.

movida next door
My sister loved the Chicken Skewers, which had been cooked traditionally over charcoal. The meat was tender, flavoursome and perfectly cooked. It's such a simple dish and a simple technique but this one of our favourites of the evening.

movida next door
In addition to the menu, there are also daily blackboard specials that highlight seasonal ingredients. This dish came from there so I can't quite remember the description, but there was baby corn with chilli and these huge prawns that were sweet and meaty.

movida next door
I'm going to call this dish a win for Team Eggplant, because Beth claims she hates eggplant and yet ended up enjoying these battered eggplant chips. And they were really really good - crispy on the outside but soft on the inside. I was almost sad to have to share them!

movida next door
The churros were, as you'd expect, out of this world. The chocolate sauce was so rich and thick it coated the crispy churros beautifully (and what was leftover Beth ate with a spoon!) I have the recipe in one of my books and will have to try it out for myself very soon.

We really enjoyed the meal and I thought it was pretty great value. I can't believe it took  me quite so long to visit. Next trip I'll definitely book into the real Movida and the new Movida Bakery!

MoVida Next Door on Urbanspoon

Movida Next Door, Hosier Lane Melbourne (03) 9663 3038

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Salted Caramel Cheesecake

salted caramel cheesecake
 I'm smiling as I write this post, thinking about what a great time I had in Perth over the Easter long weekend. The weather was just stunning, the mood was relaxed (yay holidays!) and I got to hang out with my very favourite person. It doesn't get much better than that. On Easter Sunday we hosted a nice casual lunch with the best roast pork I've made to date (mmmm crackling), heaps of sides and this Salted Caramel Cheesecake for dessert.

Yes I'm sharing this recipe a little after the fact, but it was so delicious I couldn't let it sit another week on my hard drive. I had been wanting to make this Salted Caramel Cheesecake ever since it graced the cover of the 2011 Entertaining Issue of Donna Hay. salted caramel cheesecake
 I have a love/hate relationship with Donna's recipes these days, sometimes they work flawlessly - like this one, happily - but I've also had my fair share of utter disasters where I can't figure out if I did something wrong, or if the recipe wasn't properly tested before it was published. Those disasters often end up in the bin and not on the blog! So past frustrations aside, I gave this recipe a crack, sticking to the instructions exactly. Well, almost exactly... I couldn’t help adding a glug of bourbon to the caramel sauce.

I am usually a bit iffy about ricotta as a general rule, but I loved the texture of this cheesecake. It was rich but not sickly sweet thanks to the addition of sour cream to the topping. This is definitely a recipe I’ll be pulling out again for the next special occasion! 

And here’s a gif, just because. salted caramel cheesecake

Friday, May 11, 2012

Earl Grey, Apple and Chocolate Bread Pudding

bread-pudding-3 If I were to pick my favourite ingredients to bake with, it would be a tough choice for sure, but tea (and booze!) would be right up there near the top. Every time I make something with Chai, Matcha or Earl Grey I wonder why I don't do it more often. Tea is usually a subtle but beautiful taste that seems to work well with almost everything, from chocolate to fruit and especially with creams and custards. I decided to combine all of the above in this recipe, although I can’t take all the credit – the genius idea came from the gorgeous blog Our Kitchen, by the talented team at Fisher and Paykel. Go and check it out!

When I made this bread pudding, my kitchen smelled positively ambrosial. I used T2 French Earl Grey because it’s my favourite and smells absolutely wonderful. The tea is infused into the milk and cream which then becomes the base for the custard, but I also decided to add some Earl Grey poached apple pieces and sultanas between the layers. I love the idea of using crossiants for the bread component. The buttery flaky pastries work really well to soak up that custard mixture.

earl grey, apple and chocolate bread pudding Served warm, in thick slices with a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream, this is a fabulous dessert to make as we go into winter here in the Southern Hemisphere and would be very adaptable to almost any kind of flavours you want to put into it. Infuse the cream mixture with cinnamon and spices, or some lemon zest? Delicious. Throw in some frozen berries or chopped hazelnuts between the layers? Even better.

I think it would be lovely to make for Mothers Day too. My mum loved it, and mentioned that her Mum used to make a similar thing when she was young, albiet with white bread and sultanas, not crossiants and chocolate! Have a lovely weekend everyone! xxx

The beautiful apples used in this recipe were sent to me from Bite Communications

Also, it's time to announce the winner of my cookbook competition! Congratulations to Hannah from Wayfaring Chocolate! You've won a copy of David Herbert's 'Best Ever Baking Recipes' and will be receiving an email from me shortly :)


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Fish Shop, Potts Point

the fish shop, potts point Fish are friends and food, the menus proclaim at Merivale’s newest venue The Fish Shop, situated where Lotus used to be in Potts Point. Inspired by those idyllic seaside towns of yesteryear with a nod to retro Americana. There are cool quirky touches where ever you look, like giant sea shells on display, toilet signage marked “Buoys” and “Gulls” and especially those amazing takeaway canteen style windows in the middle of the restaurant with textured glass and painted lettering.

Jeremy Strode heads the kitchen with a focus on sustainable seafood. The menu is a mixture of beautiful fresh seafood and then the battered and fried (ie delicious) stuff. There’s something to please everyone – even the carnivores in fact, with Dan Hong’s cheeseburger still gracing the menu.

the fish shop, potts point It’s only a Monday night but we throw caution to the wind and order a couple of cocktails to start. But when they arrive in cute champagne coupes they feel almost out of place here. Almost as if a paper cup with a striped wax straw would fit in better. Beth really liked her Lotus Martini, with Zubrowka Vodka, Peach Schnapps, passionfruit and apple. I was a little undecided on my Bonnie Sour, with Hendricks Gin, Pomme Verte, lime and apparently rhubarb. I couldn’t really taste the rhubarb, and almost wished I’d gone for a beer instead.

I was interested to see how a restaurant potato scallop would rate against the greasy takeaway shop kind. I’d also not had one in years and years, so it was kind of a guilty pleasure, but so worth it. The potato interior was thick, fluffy and delicious, and the batter that encased it was perfectly crisp. I’d call it a winner!

the fish shop, potts point I have to admit, it felt a little wrong ordering the Cheeseburger when at The Fish Shop, but I’d heard so many good things about it that I really, really wanted to try it. Happily, it turned out to be a highlight of the meal, I’d say one of the better burgers I’ve had in Sydney in recent times. I guess it’s easy to see why it’s famous, or rather infamous! 

the fish shop, potts point Perhaps they just paled in comparison to the burger (most things would, for the record) but I was a little underwhelmed by the Fish and Chips. The batter was a little soggy (especially when compared to the super crisp potato scallop) but a splash of malt vinegar livened up the taste. I wish there was some mushy peas to go with it! The chips were nice, clearly homemade with the skins still on and the tartare sauce in a little jar was a cute touch. I was expecting this dish to be the standout and it was actually our least favourite.

the fish shop, potts point The ice cream sandwich is clearly the dessert of 2012, appearing on restaurant menus all over Sydney. Caramel sauce seems to be the accompaniment of choice for most places too. I liked the chocolate biscuit/brownie that wasn’t too crunchy that gave way to the creamy ice cream sandwiched within. I may be somewhat biased, but I’m still very much in love with the one at Bungalow 8, with its passionfruit sauce and peanut brittle for that awesome textural contrast that this one might have just been slightly lacking.

The Fish Shop would be a great place to go with a group of friends (however they don’t take bookings so go early!) so you can try a whole bunch of different dishes. The staff were very friendly and service was quick and attentive. I also liked their stripy uniforms!

There were a few big hits and a couple of misses in terms of the food itself, but I still had a lovely dinner and will be back in the future. We barely made a dent in the menu, and there’s still lots of great things to try. I like the sound of the Blue Eye fish and chips, and the smoked salmon sandwich! Apparently they also do takeaway, which is a little bit dangerous with my office being so close!

The Fish Shop on Urbanspoon

The Fish Shop, 22 Challis Ave, Potts Point (02) 9326 9000


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