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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Yalla Habibi!!

Hey Guys! You may be wondering what's with the post title? Well it made you read didn't it?

Hahaha na, the reason why I turned all Middle-Eastern on you is because I made Habibi Rice! What is Habibi rice? Well it's a recipe from my good friend George Calombaris who got it off his good friend Shane Delia. Yes we are good friends, he did pick ME out of the crowd to go on stage at the Good Food and Wine Show after all. Then he cooked for me (as did Gary). Clearly we are tight on many levels.



Hehe this recipe comes from George and Gary's book 'Your Place or Mine'. When I initially got this book I gotta admit I wasn't overly impressed with the recipes or the layout of the book. Just to give you a quick idea, the book is split up into many different ingredients to which both Gary and George have provided one of their own recipes for. Flicked through it the first time and sorta went 'meh'. But now that I've looked over it a few times I can see quite a few things in there I could and would love to make. And one of them was George's Habibi Rice! I can't resist food with Middle-Eastern influence....

You may be wondering why I added the yalla to the post title. Well that phrase was used extensively by my family and I and many of our friends when we lived overseas in Saudi Arabia years ago. So naturally when I see the word Habibi I just add Yalla to the start of it =P. It probably also explains why I love Lebanese and Middle-Eastern food so much.

This rice is delicious, but make sure it's properly seasoned. I absolutely love pine nuts and together with the almonds they give the dish this awesome roasted nutty flavour. The reason you should make sure this is seasoned properly is because I think the taste of the spices comes through much stronger when you add a bit of salt. I could probably eat this by itself, and it's probably a good idea since it's not the healthiest thing you could eat =P. I'm so gonna have a heart attack by the time I turn 25 =S.

Yalla Habibi!! Go make this!!



Habibi Rice
Recipe by George Calombaris from 'Your Place or Mine'
 

Ingredients
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
50g pine nuts
50g flaked almonds
100g clarified butter (made by heating up a whole load of unsalted butter in the microwave, and just measuring out the right amount of the butterfat which is the liquid stuff - discard the milk solids which is the white stuff that settles on the bottom)
50g angel hair pasta
1/2 onion, finely diced
250g basmati rice
750ml hot water
Sea salt flakes (I used normal table salt)

Method
1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Place coriander and cumin seeds on baking tray and roast for 5 minutes or until fragrant. Crush with mortar and pestle (DO NOT grind all the way down! I did this and i think it's better if you leave some of the seeds intact)


2. Reduce oven temp to 170C (338F). Place pine nuts and almonds on baking tray and roast for 7-10 minutes or until light golden brown.

3. Heat clarified butter in frying pan over medium heat, then break in angel hair pasta in 1cm lengths and fry until golden brown, approx. 2 minutes. Add onion and rice and cook until rice starts to absorb butter and onion begins to soften, approx. 5 minutes.



4. Add spices, nuts and water and bring to boil. Cover and cook over low heat until water has been absorbed and rice is tender, approx. 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and stand for 5 minutes.

5. Fluff with a fork, stir in salt to taste and serve.


You know now that I think about it you could probably use ghee instead of making your own clarified butter...should double check that.
 


Enjoy =D xx

Monday, 25 July 2011

Swirls

Sorry in advance for the unimaginative name =P. I just cycled about 20km (which for me is like a bajillion km) and I think my legs need to be amputated...

Last week was real busy for me, and for some reason my nail polish didn't come off as quickly as i hoped it would =P. Either too much top coat or not enough alcohol drenching my hands during ward rounds (i.e. not doing enough work =P). And so I had my orange nailpolish on for a while, but I got pretty bored with it and i wasn't that keen on it anyways. So this week I decided on something darker and heavier. This is Zoya Envy, a deep dark green. I doesn't really show up much in the pictures, which is a shame. Looks alot like black....


The green shows up much better in the close up =).


And of course, I decided to put a design on it. This isn't my favourite manicure yet again (I haven't been having much luck lately!) but it's OK. Since the design was done in silver it makes Envy look even more like black =S. I imagined it differently to how it turned out, could be the green is too dark, could be my messy work...I haven't been keeping up to date with all my fav nail blogs, which I think is the reason for my lack of inspiration =(. If only there were more hours in the day!!



Just thought I'd share my most played song this week! Can't get enough of the house beat!!
 

=D xx

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Cheese Biscuits

The dietitians at my current work placement love to cook. Mainly bake. Nearly every week I've been there they have had a morning or afternoon tea where they all make or bake things and sit around for a while just eating and chatting about their wonderful recipes. Actually, come to think of it i don't think I've ever heard any one of them talk about anything un-food related in general conversation. It's always, 'I made this' or 'I made that' or 'I altered this recipe' or 'I went to this restaurant'. Well, being dietitians you'd probably expect that wouldn't you? But, I mean, I love talking about food and making it too, but there ARE other things in life.  Don't get me wrong, they are lovely, gorgeous people, but it's a bit unnerving....

Anyways, one of the dietitians I was talking to gave me a recipe for these cheddar cheese biscuits, or flaky crackers. And so, I made them =). They actually taste pretty good! But I think I burnt mine a bit, and as a result, this is probably the first time I have leftovers =(. I'm determined to make sure it NEVER happens again. I hate wastage!


The recipe title actually says Cheese and Paprika Biscuits, but despite adding extra paprika to the already substantial amount in the recipe, I couldn't really taste it. So I renamed it so I don't mislead my readers =).

I also think it's a good idea I decided to cook something savory since I haven't done so for quite a while. And recently I conducted a diabetes education clinic and now I'm a bit paranoid...


Cheddar Cheese Biscuits

Ingredients
125g butter, room temp
250g grated cheddar cheese (try lite cheddar cheese)
1 egg
1 1/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp smoked paprika (like I said, I added more - like a whole tsp more...)

Method
1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Line oven tray(s) with baking paper.

2. Beat butter and cheese together until combined. Add egg and mix until combined.

3. Add flour and paprika and mix till combined.

4. Turn out mixture onto lightly floured bench top. Roll out dough till 1cm thick and cut out biscuits using preferred cutter shape. Place biscuits on baking paper lined trays.

5. Bake for 13 minutes or until golden in colour. Turn out on wire rack to cool for at least 15-30 minutes.


Mmmm, taste just like Shapes biscuits, but better of course =D. One of the things that went really well with these was olive tapenade. Man I love this stuff. Definitely need to look into attempting to make this.


Enjoy =) xx

When the day just doesn't go my way...

R n' R.

Music, (food) magazine, and pretty much melted salted caramel ice cream

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Frozen Cappuccino!

Hi Guys! Omigosh! It's been over a WEEK since my last post! I've been a bad blogger =(. Life has once again gotten the better of me and i have fallen behind! And unfortunately this is going to be a short post =(. But plenty more to come! Since I've been so busy I have PLENTY to blog about! I have a list written up of all the blog posts I want to do =D.

Last week my brother was bugging me to make more ice cream. I swear once you make too much of a good thing they take it for granted =P. It's sort of becoming a weekly thing this ice cream making business. I really like it because it gives me a chance to get creative, and it's really easy to make and doesn't take up much of my time, which is becoming really hard to come by these days.

So last week I made CAPPUCCINO ICE CREAM! No, not coffee, but cappuccino! What's the difference? Apparently cinnamon? This recipe used cinnamon, which tasted great! Not sure how it's classified as cappuccino though....

The creation of a coffee based ice cream was inevitable, since my family has an affinity for Connoisseur Cafe Grande tubs and my brother is a coffee lover. I love this ice cream creation, however next time I want to add the stuff that will make it as good as the Connoisseur one.....mmmmm.

I used one of Ben n' Jerry's recipe for the first time and it turned out great!! I bought the Ben n' Jerry's cookbook a while ago in anticipation of purchasing an ice cream maker and I can finally use it =). Definitely using it more often since this ice cream disappeared in no time and the recipe yielded a crap load as well. It went so fast that my brother got annoyed at me since I kept bugging him to save some so I could take some pictures of it. This was all that was left by the time I could get my hands on my camera....


And yes that is salted caramel sauce poured all over it!! However I'm saving that recipe for another time (I made it for something else and it goes way better with that thing!)

The only thing disappointing about the Ben and Jerry's book is that they don't have recipes for all those awesome flavours like Half-Baked or Triple Caramel Crunch. Oh well, I'm sure they're easy to re-create.


Cappuccino Ice Cream
Adapted from Ben and Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book

Ingredients
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups thickened cream
1 cup milk
3 & 1/2 tbsp instant coffee
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Method
1. Whisk the eggs until light and fluffy (1-2 minutes).

2. Whisk in sugar a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended (~1 more minute).

3. Pour in the cream, milk, 2 & 1/2 tbsp of the coffee and the cinnamon - whisk to blend.

4. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturers instructions.

5. About 2 minutes before the ice cream is done, add the remaining 1 tbsp coffee and continue churning until the ice cream is done.

6. (OPTIONAL) At the 2-minutes-till-done point I added dark chocolate chips (about 1/2 cup). In my opinion these were not needed, but just a note - If you DO add them make sure they are NOT baking chips =P. Maybe adding chopped up chunks of real cadbury chocolate would be better. And white chocolate!
 


Enjoy! xx

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Portofino, Norton St Leichhardt

Hey Guys!! I had a big weekend last week, full of food, alcohol and a whole load of fun (maybe a bit too much of each...) but it was a great one! It's really nice to have something to look forward to after a long week of unpaid work =P.

My family and I went out for dinner for a belated birthday celebration on Saturday night for my brother's 23rd birthday. Whenever we go out to dinner we always end up at some sort of Asian restaurant, so this time we decided to mix it up a bit and go for something more European. Up till now I don't think I've had much Italian food in Sydney and the few places that I've been to have obviously not left much of an impression. I was determined to find a good Italian eatery, since I'm SURE Sydney is full of them (although nothing will top Alfresco up at the Gold Coast!).

For me Italian food, or more so the pasta dishes that come from the cuisine, is my quintessential comfort food - it's so hearty and filling and always leaves me feeling full and content. It takes me to a place where I can imagine myself finishing a nice big bowl of pasta in some nice cosy wood cabin while it's snowing outside, and then curling up into a ball and falling asleep on a huge comfy couch next to a blazing fireplace....

.....And preferably with some gorgeous guy's arms wrapped around me. I'm channeling Chris Pine at the moment. Or Ryan Reynolds. Hehe.

Ahem, moving on....Obviously when you think Italian in Sydney, you think of Norton St, Leichhardt - Sydney's Little Italy! So I jumped onto Eatability - my go-to guide for restaurants - and searched away. Whenever I use this site I ALWAYS make sure there are more than AT LEAST 50 reviews otherwise you know that someones been pulling a shifty and rating their own restaurant and it turns up on your search as a 10 star rating with like one or few reviews =P. So after narrowing my search criteria I ended up finding this little restaurant called Portofino, located further down Norton St with quite an extensive menu - and after a few minutes we were booked in prime time =).


I really liked this place, it was really warm and cosy and the staff are nice. Again like I said, the menu was really long which made it hard for me to decide what to get (my average decision making time = 20 minutes, even at maccas =P). We ordered a few pizza crusts - sorta like garlic bread entrees - and we all ordered pasta, but they do have a range of other dishes and a long list of pizzas. The service here is really quick as well! I'm pretty sure we only waited about 10-15 minutes for mains and this was on a Saturday night restaurant rush hour.

Garlic, Chilli and Herb Pizza Crust
Olive Tapenade Pizza Crust - must recreate this!
Remember my rant about the cabin and the fireplace (and the gorgeous guy =P)? Well the food at this place fit the bill! Gorgeous pasta that fills you up to just the right amount - taking me right to that log cabin. I don't know if it's just my family and I but we thought the portion sizes were really generous - we never eat this much pasta at home. But it all tasted so good!! And we thought it was real value for money given that I was full after eating about 1/4 of the dish (believe me these photos are deceiving!).

Linguini Con Gamberoni - Prawns, Sun dried Tomatoes, Olives, Shallots, Garlic and Parmesan - my favourite!

Ravioli Special Of the Day! I can't remember exactly what it was but it was filled with goat's cheese and had chicken
in there somewhere, along with a rich creamy sauce

Spaghetti Al Frutti De Mare - Spaghetti and a whole mix of trawler seafood

Fettuccine with prawns, spinach and a rich Napolitana sauce (cheese and cream omitted of course =P - guess who!)

And of course, I always leave room for dessert. Again, the menu was really good and made it so hard to decide. I was tossing between the creme brulee and the gelato, and my stomach screamed gelato.

Gelato Pyramid - Honey Macadamia, Wildberry and Peanut Butter gelato,
with a honey creme anglaise and almond praline

Yummo!!
This is a great Italian eatery! My brother and I both agreed we'd be coming back with friends. However, after experiencing Portofinos I'm really keen to see what the rest of Norton St has to offer, especially the Italian Forum. But would definitely recommend you go with a bunch of friends here, take some (red!) wine, order as much as you can and just share it all!

Portofino
166 Norton St
Leichhardt
Ph: (02) 9550 0782
www.portofinonortonst.com.au

Portofino on Urbanspoon

Hope you enjoyed reading! xx

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Essie Chubby Cheeks

Hey guys! I've been getting the chance to do my nails more often because I'm doing work placement in various hospitals and clinics, and in between the constant washing and sanitising of hands in alcohol, my polish chips off real easy. It's sometimes crap when it's a manicure I really like, but I'm starting to get real bored after a few days of the same nails....Actually, I thought my supervisor might tell me to tone it down with the polish, but no one has told me off so far!


I was stuck for manicure ideas last night and my best friend suggested a deep orangey colour, so I looked for some sort of burnt Winter/Autumn colour to match the weather. I really really LOVE this colour. It's Essie Chubby Cheeks (what a cute name!). It's not really deep, nor do I think it's winter, but it's semi-orange I guess haha. It looks way more orange in real life.


And then I decided to make it all fancy and put some kinda pattern on it. She suggested leaves or trees but I couldn't find anything =P. So I chose this sorta Aztec-like design. Personally, while I like the design, I think Chubby Cheeks by itself looks heaps nice. Oh well, it still looks alright =P.



Well, given that the polish is just wiping off these days I'll be able to re-paint them soon =).

Enjoy! xx

Melting Moments

I've been craving these like no tomorrow. Ever since I bought them from the Yarra Valley 'Crumbs' stall at the Good Food and Wine Show I set out to find a recipe for them. I was convinced they were some sort of incredibly special unknown biscuit that was so tasty and like nothing I had had before that I wouldn't be able to find a recipe for them. In fact, I didn't even know they were called melting moments till I actually google-ed 'yo-yo biscuits'. I feel like an idiot =P.

I've also never had shortbread before, which is supposed to be similar in texture to these in terms of the shortness of the dough and the melt-in-your-mouth property. Well, actually, I'm sure I might have come across it once or twice but I probably didn't realise it. Seriously, what's wrong with me. 

So after finding millions of recipes for what is clearly a popular and well-known biscuit, I had trouble selecting one out of the lot. But I got there, eventually. =).




Improved photography skills? Not really.


Melting Moments (Yo-yo Biscuits)
Adapted from Taste


Ingredients
125g butter
3/4 cup (115g) plain flour
1/4 cup (45g) icing sugar
1/3 cup (50g) custard powder

Icing
60g butter, softened
2/3 cup (110g) icing sugar
1 tbsp custard powder
2 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tbsp lemon juice (I omitted this because I thought the rind added enough of a lemony taste)

Method
1. Preheat oven to 160C (320F). Line oven tray(s) with baking paper.

2. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy

3. Add the flour and custard powder and use a wooden spoon to combine. You may find it won't come together, but as long as it resembles fine bread crumbs it should be fine.


4. Use your hands to roll teaspoonfuls of the dough into balls. Place them 3cm apart on the trays. Use a fork to gently flatten them so they don't crack while baking (mine cracked a bit while pressing them with the fork....)


5. Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes.


6. In the meantime, to make the icing, beat the butter, icing sugar and custard powder until light and fluffy. Add the lemon rind (and juice if you desire) and beat till combined. (Note: You can also melt the butter, mix it with the custard powder THEN beat it with the icing sugar to make a runnier icing).

7. Spread the icing over the flat side of half the biscuits and sandwich together with the other halves.


I personally would have preferred passionfruit icing, which is made by adding the strained pulp of one passionfruit and 1 tbs of passionfruit juice instead of the lemon rind and juice.


It was a nice recipe, but I rekon I could find a better one (EDIT!! I DID FIND ONE!)....the ones from Crumbs (haha that rhymed!) where a bit more melt-in-your-mouth like. But nevertheless these were nice =D. And its good the recipe only yielded like 10 because they are pretty heavy on the stomach...

See you later =) xx

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Kaleidoscope

My latest foray into sticky tape manicures! China Glaze Kaleidoscope Him Out over plain black polish.



Monday, 4 July 2011

Good Food and Wine Show 2011

Hi Guys! I haven't blogged in a while because life has been quite hectic, even though I have been on holidays for the past 3 weeks. I've finally found some time now, ironically on my first day of full time work placement =P. Should give you an indication of my great prioritising skills haha.


On Saturday I attended the Good Food and Wine Show in Sydney at the Darling Harbour Exhibition Centre. I remember going last year for the first time and I absolutely loved it! All the great things to try, the awesome products on sale, George and Gary being quite the entertainers....oh so much fun! And so I knew I just HAD to go this year as well. And this time I went prepared with my expensive camera and an empty backpack =P.


Here's a photo my friend Nadi took of just a small section of the show, so many people and so many stalls!!


And there I am! Sitting with my mum waiting for the yummy food to arrive! This year the Oxford Landing Estate Restaurant was serving up dishes created by favourite contestants Marion and Poh from the previous seasons from Masterchef. There were quite a few to chose from it was so hard to decide. Here's just a few of the ones we picked....

Marion's Confit Duck with Star Anise Sauce and Mash
Poh's Dong Do Pork with Chop House Fried Rice

Soooo so so good! Marion's duck was incredible! So nice with the star anise sauce.....I wish I could have had more. It was so hard to keep my stomach (relatively) empty to sample all the great products around the show because the dishes were so yumm.

Speaking of Marion, we got to watch one of her cooking presentations and then meet and greet her afterwards! She is so nice, it was really great to meet her =). Definitely need to get her new cookbook after watching her make this incredible chilli mud crab.


The great thing about the Show is that you get the chance to see famous Aussie celebrity chef's like George and Gary on stage doing what they do best. Last year not only did I get to see them on stage, I got picked out of the crowd to sit at their 'family table' on stage and eat all the food they cooked!! It was such an awesome experience, the food was absolutely gorgeous, even if it was put together in half an hour, but George and Gary were so incredibly sweet and nice. I even got to have a bit of a conversation on stage with them about good nutrition and the importance of moderation....since the show cops alot of flak for 'promoting' the use of things such as oil and butter in copious amounts (I won't go into this or I won't stop BUT I will say that a simple cooking show cannot be blamed for the obesity epidemic this country is facing - passing the buck won't get you any closer to a healthier lifestyle....)

Anyways, this year I decided to go see Matt Moran. And I wasn't disappointed!! Even though Gary and George provide much of the entertainment factor, Matt Moran was a nice change. He did a masterclass on fish - made 5 dishes using this great piece of salmon i think it was. Even though I didn't get to get on stage this time it was still a great experience =D.


Not only is it a great oppotrunity to see them live, you also get the chance to meet all the celebrity chefs and get autographs and pictures and what not. Last year I got my copy of Gary's 'Comfort Food' signed, which is undoubtedly one of the best cookbooks I own - everything in it look so damn yum. This year I grabbed a copy of Gary and George's 'Your Place or Mine'. Nadi got them BOTH to sign it and they wrote these messages in it for me when they heard I had met them last year as well! Awww they are both just the cutest!!!


And of course, one of the best things about the Show is being able to sample all these GREAT products from all over the country. There was something of EVERYTHING to try at the show - best $25 I ever spent - cheapest way to fill your stomach no joke!!! There were well known brands such as Nandos and Gloria Jeans (they had these AWESOME caramel wafer cookies I HOPE they start to sell in NSW verrrry soon!!), and some gorgeous handmade products from estates and farms all over the countryside. I wish I took more photos of the stuff I tried - chocolate pasta, preserves and chutneys of all kinds, incredible shortbread cookies, cakes and sweets galore, spice mixes.....and some great wines as well. Nearly every single stall had some sort of special offer going on, you'd be mad to NOT buy anything!! Me being me, I couldn't go home empty handed! And since I missed out on some great things last year because I didn't have any way to take them all home, I made up for it this year....

Best melting moments ever.

Incredible spice mixes! So flavoursome and versatile!
Chuck out your store bought generic crap!!
Wish I had got some of there Dukkah...

Have you guys heard of this brand? I hadn't until i sampled they're products...Oh. My. God. Go buy some. Now. They had the best offer going on at the Show it was hard to resist....the range is so good! Go check it out (pretty sure you can get these at Coles)!!


Mmmm macadamia brittle that tastes like caramel popcorn,
and some coconut ice
There was more of course, but it's all in the kitchen downstairs. Or my stomach.

There is SO much to do at the show it's incredible. Next time I go I'd love to go to some of the extra masterclasses they have running like the decanter bar sessions or the chocolate making class....

Hope you enjoyed reading =) Make sure you go next year if you missed out this time!! xx
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