Saturday, 30 December 2006

recipe carousel #27 - milkshakes

Happy New Year!!!

I can’t believe it’s 2007! This is a big year for me. In eight weeks I’ll be getting married! Ahhhh!!!

Last night I had Tim W and Jane over for dinner and when I opened the front door there was one extra person: my little sister Amy!

She was supposed to be in South Africa on the last leg of her 2½ year journey abroad. After visiting 23 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, she came home early and surprised me – just in time to celebrate the new year together!

To start the first Recipe Carousel of 2007 I’ve chosen something that starts the day for many people around the world: milkshakes.

Smoothies, frappes and milkshakes are a wonderful drink at breakfast, lunch or dinner and there’s such a huge potential of ingredients and ideas.

Here’s seven that tickled my fancy in one way or another.

Avocado Milkshake. Melissa in Scotland (The Traveler's Lunchbox) has discovered one of South East Asia’s delightful and rich drinks. Avocado flesh is blended with milk, sweetened condensed milk and flavoured with your choice of orange extract, vanilla, rum or coffee. Don’t be frightened by this combination, many who have sipped this drink have raved about the avocado’s ability to transform into a creamy dessert companion.

Cherry Yoghurt Milkshake is a gorgeously pink drink from Zorra in Spain (Kochtopf). Yoghurt is blended with canned cherries, lemon juice, honey and cinnamon. Throw in a dash of the cherry syrup and you’ve got yourself one quick and easy shake to get your motor running.

Chocolate Drinks were enjoyed by Keiko in the UK (Nordljus). She made chocolate ice cubes served vanilla milk, the chocolate and milk amalgamating as the chocolate melted. She suggests the drink could be modified to add spices or even a little coffee to the mix.

Iced Coffee with Sticky Rice Balls is a classic Thai drink from Appon (Appon's Thai Food). Espresso is blended with sugar and milk then chilled. Meanwhile sticky rice flour is coloured and flavoured with rosewater then boiled in ball shapes. These are simply added to the iced coffee and sucked up through large straws. Photo courtesy of Appon.

Pineapple Frullato is a spring time recipe from Orchidea in Sweden (Viaggi & Sappori). Her quick and easy recipe combines fresh juicy pineapple with natural yoghurt and Italian acacia honey. A non fuss way to toast to primavera.

Fig & Honey Smoothie is a recipe road test by Michèle in France (Oswego Tea). I recognised this recipe from a Michele Cranston book I have at home and sure enough, this is where Michèle sourced it from. Black figs are blended with natural yoghurt and, in Michèle’s case, rosemary honey. The final product is topped with toasted slivered almonds.

Berry Smoothies are a simple dairy treat from Priya in the USA (Sugar and Spice). In her recipe you can used either fresh or frozen berries and blend them with milk, yoghurt, orange juice and honey. Priya also suggests that wheatgerm or flaxseed can be added to increase nutritional benefits and cow milk can be substituted for soy milk.

I have some of my own milkshake recipes, including horchata and lemony nimbu lassi, as well as the alcoholic Coco Baby Bitters, Pink Pudding and Boozy Hot Chocolate.

Add your own recipe!
If you want to link in your own milkshake recipe and share the love around, just leave the link in the comments section. You didn’t have to invent the recipe yourself, just make it and post it on your site. The whole idea of Recipe Carousel is that good recipes are shared with people who love to cook.
Note: Usual comments are more than welcome but all html links must be recipe related (yours or others).

Check out other Recipe Carousel themes: rice, festive food, legumes/pulses, eggs, pancakes, breakfast, raw food, berries, dips, cocktails, pasta, yoghurt, crispy snacks, vegetable desserts, fruit in savoury food, made from scratch, strawberries, jam, bread, seafood mains, ice cream, soup, chocolate and drinks.


goats' cheese pudding

Red currants are just so pretty!

When I visited Jonas’ hometown, Vänersborg, his mother’s garden was full of gorgeous currant bushes, laden heavily with bright red and white berries.

It’s rare that we can get our hands on reasonably priced currants in Sydney and so I was very pleased that I found a punnet just at Christmas.

I’m happy to eat the tart little berries just as they are, but Jonas prefers them cooked and sweetened. For this reason I mixed the currants with quince to form a syrup for cocktails, ice cream or as a dessert sauce.

It was good timing too because this Christmas Eve I made us an African inspired menu with an avocado soup from the Ivory Coast, a legume main from Algeria and a gorgeous goat’s cheese pudding from Cabo Verde. The pudding was rich so my red currant and quince sauce was an excellent accompaniment.

This pudding (which is very much like a cheesecake) has a wonderful tangy flavour from the goat's cheese. The original recipe uses 250g goat’s cheese but that's a little too pungent for me. I brought the amount down to 100g and supplemented the rest with fresh ricotta. I also added lemon zest to the sugar syrup to add a light citrus edge. It’s barely detectable but it does add something special.

The final result was more than yummy. I’d definitely make this again.

Pudim de Queijo (Goats' Cheese Pudding)

Adapted from a recipe on the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s website. Serves 6.

100g fresh soft goat cheese
150g fresh ricotta
250g sugar
250ml (2 cups) water
2 egg yolks
2 eggs (yolks & whites)
1 tablespoon wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1. Preheat oven to 180’C.
2. Boil sugar and zest in water to the consistency of a thick syrup. Cool.
3. Whip cheeses together until they form a smooth paste.
4. Add sugar syrup and whip until combined.
5. Beat in egg yolks and egg whites.
6. Sprinkle the bottom of a greased cake loaf with burnt sugar. Pour in the mixture and cover with foil.
7. Place cake loaf in a oven proof dish and fill dish with hot water so that it reaches halfway up the cake loaf.
8. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.
9. Remove foil and baked another 15 – 20 minutes until cake is coming away from the edges of the pan.
10. Cool and serve cut into wedges.

Red Currant & Quince Sauce

Anna’s very own recipe. Makes 200ml.

100g red currants
3 tablespoons quince paste
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
1. Pick over currants and remove from stems. Reserve a third of the currants.
2. Dissolve sugar in water over a medium heat.
3. Increase heat to high. Add quince paste and currants and bring to the boil stirring continually. Currants should start to break apart.
4. When syrup has thickened enough to form droplets on a plate, add reserved currants and remove from heat.

Cabo Verde (Cape Verde) is group of islands just off the west coast of Africa, opposite Senegal and Mauritania. In the 1400s the Portuguese colonised the islands, which had been uninhabited, and used them as a water pit stop as well as for sugar cane production and a port during the slave trade. Today Cabo Verde is an independent republic and the official language is Portuguese.

Map taken from


Wednesday, 27 December 2006

try this! frizz coffee

I have made an amazing discovery at my local green grocer. With summer in full swing, coffee addicts will be looking for cooler ways to get their caffeine hit. Enter Frizz Coffee, a red and black labelled bibita direct from Italy.

This is the first coffee flavoured soft drink I’ve tried and, although the initial concept is confusing (cold, fizzy coffee?), the result is satisfying.

Cooled down like lemonade, this drink makes a decidedly sweet and refreshing beverage. It’s slightly frizzante and has a determined coffee flavour. Jonas, who was a barista for four years, marvels at how Frizz Coffee develops a true coffee crema when poured over ice.

I drink this as a cheeky breakfast sipper, afternoon delight or partnered with vanilla ice cream for an adult spider. AUD$5.99 gets me a 6 pack of 180ml bottles and there’s even a liquorice version (although I haven’t been game enough to try this one).


Tuesday, 26 December 2006

le kilimanjaro - east african cuisine

Le Kilimanjaro East African Eatery
280 King Street
Newtown, Sydney
T: +61 2 9557 4565

This is not the first time I’ve visited Le Kilimanjaro, an East African restaurant on the main street of bohemian Newtown. Food here is extremely interesting in a suburb where pub grub, Indian and Thai reign supreme.

I love this tiny space and the owners, dressed in their traditional Senegalese clothes – long white gowns for the men and bright, flourishing colours for the women.

This time I visited with a Japanese friend, Taka, and tried a wide range of dishes.

The menu is on a board on the wall and customers make their selection before the arrival of gorgeous wooden plates. This small touch adds authenticity and excitement before the food even arrives.

First to arrive were the drinks. Bissap ($4) is the glowing red nectar of hibiscus flowers and has a sweet earthy flavour. A ginger based drink ($4) has a spicy bite and delicious honey sweetness. I liked the bissap but adored the ginger drink.

Next came an asparagus dish ($6) not listed on the menu. It was steamed to crunchy perfection and topped with a thick sauce of various spices, tamarind and peas. This was very fresh and had a nice afterglow.

Niamdoli ($6) was tangy salad of cucumber and tomato smothered in a yoghurt, saffron and mint sauce. These chucky cut vegetables and the dairy component were a cooling influence compared to the spiciness of other dishes.

To mop up all the juices we ordered perfumed couscous ($6) and soft flat bread ($2 per piece) which were savoury crepes.

In ndambe ($12.50) cubed marinated lamb is steamed then smothered in a sauce of spices, tomatoes, lentils, kidney beans and vegetables, such as pumpkin. The lamb was a little dry in this dish, but the flavours were excellent.

Soussou-Gorgiguan ($12.50) was steamed boneless tuna served with spices and tamarind. This is my favourite dish with the warm spices deliciously complimenting the sour tamarind. The menu explains that in Wolof (both a Senegalese tribe and their language) the word “gorgiguan” means ‘homosexual’. I have no idea how this dish got its name or what tuna has to do with homosexuality, but one thing is clear: it’s extremely tasty.

Overall, this is a great little restaurant with a casual atmosphere and unique range of dishes. Vegetarians won’t go hungry with eight dishes dedicated to their eating pleasure. With the total bill for two coming in at $60 (including a tip), it’s not cheap but it is reasonably priced for a rare taste of African. I’ve been before and I will visit again.

Le Kilimanjaro on Urbanspoon


Saturday, 23 December 2006

chocolate raspberry truffles

There has been a lot of truffle activity on the gastronomic blogosphere with the recent truffle themed Sugar High Friday, so I decided to do my bit and whip up some of my own.

Dark chocolate and raspberries are one of my favourite pairings, their only real competition being dark chocolate and orange. But when raspberries came down from AUD$7.99 for 150g to AUD$3.99, I immediately pounced upon the opportunity and bought myself a punnet.

Jonas simply cannot believe the price of raspberries and blueberries in Australia. In Sweden they grow as weeds on the side of the road but here, in this warm country, berries are astronomically expensive and raspberries, currants and blackberries are probably among the most prized.

With a pretty punnet of dusty red raspberries, I set about making some truffles for petit fours and as a birthday gift for a friend.

Chocolate Raspberry Truffles

Recipe from Gourmet Traveller ‘December 2006’ issue. Makes 60.

300g raspberries
200ml pouring cream
50ml Framboise
600g dark chocolate (57% cocoa solids)

1. Chop or shave chocolate into very fine pieces.
2. Combine cream, Framboise and 200g of raspberries in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium-high heat. Process in a food processor then pass through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan.
3. Clean food processor and add chocolate.
4. Bring raspberry mixture to the boil and, with food processor motor running, pour over chocolate. Process until smooth.
5. Pour half the chocolate mixture into a paper lined baking tray (20cm x 30cm). Scatter with remaining 100g of raspberries and top with remaining chocolate mixture. Smooth top and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight until set.
6. Using a warm, sharp knife, cut truffles into cubes and dust with cocoa.
Note: They can keep in the fridge (in an airtight container) for up to 1 month.

Anna’s Variation: I used chocolate with 70% cocoa solid so it took on a rich bitterness. Jonas told me the recipe wasn’t as sweet as he prefers. If you prefer sweeter chocolate treats use lower level cocoa solids or dissolve in some super fine sugar when you melt the chocolate.


Wednesday, 20 December 2006

chocolate ricotta mousse

Some of you may have noticed that there wasn't a Recipe Carousel this Monday. I have decided to take a two week break over this holiday period. Recipe Carousel will be back on Monday 1 January to kickstart the new year!

Today I've got a Recipe Road Test for you. This recipe I discovered on Ilva's Lucullian Delights. Her blog never fails to inspire me with such beautiful imagery and very simple, delicious recipes.
On this occasion the particular source of inspiration was three ricotta based mousses flavoured with chocolate, candied cedro and basil. Ilva’s ricotta mousse is absolutely divine with a rich, velvety texture.

I opted for the chocolate version and served my mousse with chocolate dipped strawberries, macerated strawberries and a deliciously refreshing Red Corvette cocktail.

Chocolate Ricotta Mousse

Recipe by Ilva from Lucullian Delights. Serves 4.


250g fresh ricotta
3 tablespoons sugar
1½ tablespoons water
2 egg whites
Cocoa powder to taste
1. Put sugar and water in a small pan and let it boil for 3-5 minutes, shake it now and then. Put it aside to cool down.
2. Whip the ricotta with an electric whisk and continue to do so while you add the tepid syrup.
3. Beat the egg whites until white and very stiff, then mix them carefully with the ricotta.
4. Add the cocoa and mix carefully.
5. Put the ricotta mousse in serving bowls and leave these in the fridge for a couple of hours so that they are nice and cold. As a final touch, decorate each bowl with chocolate lattice or shavings.
Anna's variations: Instead cocoa, I used 100g of melted 70% cocoa chocolate.

Red Corvette
Recipe from Serves 1.
50 ml Frangelico
40 ml Midori
5 strawberries
A cup of crushed ice
Pour all ingredients together and mix in a blender.


Sunday, 17 December 2006

nepalese meatball curry

After my friend, Ben, spent some time living with a Nepalese family in Kathmandu, he told me about the food he ate there. He explained that he'd eaten dal for breakfast, lunch and dinner and it had seemed so flavoursome and nourishing while he was living in Nepal, but when he came home to Sydney the same recipe tasted dull.

Was it his tastebuds that changed, the ingredients or was it the romanticism of Nepal?

So when I saw this delicious looking tomato based Nepalese curry, flavoured heavily with coriander (roots and all), I wanted to try it.

I adored the coriander laden sauce and it reminded me of curries I have bought at Indian restaurants. In fact, this was the first time my homemade curry matched something I have bought from experts.

I thought the flavours were delicious, but if you’re not keen on coriander I dare say this dish is not for you.

Nepalese Meatball Curry

Recipe from “The Australian Women’s Weekly New Curries”. Serves 4.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium white onion (150g), chopped finely
1 clove garlic, crushed
3cm piece fresh ginger (15g), grated
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped coriander roots and stems
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground fenugreek
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
800g canned crushed tomatoes
1 cup (250ml) beef stock
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small white onion (80g), chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, crushed
5cm piece fresh ginger (25g), grated
750g lamb mince
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 fresh long red chilli, chopped finely
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ cup fresh coriander, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons stale breadcrumbs

1. Make curry. Heat oil in large saucepan. Cook onion, garlic and ginger, stirring until onion softens.
2. Add coriander mixture and spices and stir until fragrant.
3. Add (undrained) tomatoes and stock. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
4. Meanwhile make meatballs. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan and cook onion, garlic and ginger, stirring until onion softens. Cool 10 minutes.
5. In a large bowl combine mince, whole egg, egg yolk, chilli, spices, coriander, breadcrumbs and onion mixture. Roll level tablespoons of the mixture into balls.
6. Heat remaining oil in the same pan and cook meatballs (in batches) until browned all over.
7. Add meatballs to curry sauce and cook, uncovered, for around 20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.
8. Remove curry from the heat and stir lemon juice into curry. Serve with rice.


Saturday, 16 December 2006

nimbu lassi

I love a good milkshake and an Indian lassi is the ultimate. My favourite is a mango lassi flavoured heavily with cardamom. Nothing is better as an afternoon snack.

A while ago Jonas and I bought a Hare Krishna vegetarian cookbook by Australian Kurma Dasa. It was Kurma’s cooking show during my very early teens that introduced me to yellow asafoetida powder (also known as hing). Kurma puts it in everything and “yellow asafoetida” became a bit of a running joke with my dad, stepmum and I.

Nonetheless, Kurma has some interesting cookbooks and Cooking with Kurma includes some very interesting desserts, drinks and chutneys.

Some of his interesting drink recipes are Sinh To Bo (Vietnamese avocado shake), Salabat (Filipino ginger tea) and Refresco de Papaya (Guatemalan papaya shake).

In his book there’s also a recipe from Nimbu Lassi, a lemon yoghurt drink styled on the versions made in India.

Nimbu Lassi

Recipe from 'Cooking with Kurma' by Kurma Dasa. Serves 4.

2 cups (500ml) white grape juice
1 cup plain yoghurt
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Crushed ice
Water to taste
Sugar syrup to taste
1. Blend in blender.
2. Taste then add sugar syrup or water to reach preferred flavour and consistency.

Jonas and I tried this for breakfast one day and, although it was deliciously refreshing, we added a dash of sugar syrup since it was a touch on the sour side. We also used Muscat grape juice, which was very floral and aromatic.


Wednesday, 13 December 2006

try this! fragolino

This Wednesday Wine Blogging is hosted by Brenda at The Culinary Fool. Since it's the festive season she's presented us with a sparkling wine challenge, and it can't be champagne!

I have three favourite sparkling wines: they're all dessert wines and they're all Italian. Mostcato d'Asti (which I'm sure most people know about already), Brachetto d'Acqui (which I've bored you all about on numerous occasions) and Fragolino (a much maligned wine due to its New World ancestry).

I first tried Fragolino at the age of 19 in a cute little bar and creperia in Piazza di Sant'Eustachio in Rome. The creperis is no longer there, but I still fond memories of my first sweet sip and the cute bartender who slipped me his number when he wrote down the name of the wine.

Fragolino is a gorgeous Italian chilled, red dessert wine made from the Fragola grape (a hybrid commonly known as Uva Americana, Isabella Seksarda, Pierce and Raisin de Cassis). The interesting characteristic of the Fragola grape (Italian for strawberry) is that is has a distinctive strawberry aroma and this is imparted deeply into the wine. In fact Fragolino smells so entirely strawberry that I was convinced for some time that the wine was made out of strawberries rather than grapes.

Pisani Fragolino Rosso Vivo (Veneto, Italy) was a rich, ruby red, softly frizzante and certainly carried the distinctive perfume of strawberry. I also detected aromas of red fruits, cherries and even a little rose. The initial flavour was intensely strawberry with a mellow sweetness that ended in a slightly cloying cerise. In fact the aftertaste was quite syrupy and even borderline artificial. I became concerned that the wine had been modified to include artificial strawberry perfumes. However the texture of the wine was very nice: light with bubbles gently caressing the mouth and the elegant chill taking the edge off the sweetness.

I'd give Fragolino a 7-8 out of 10 whereas it's more sophisticated cousin, Brachetto d'Acqui, I'd give 9-10 out of 10.

Pisani Fragolino Rosso Vivo rates a little lower than your average Fragolino. It was good (I'd still recommend people to try it) but I've had better (dare I admit I love the very cheap Duchessa Lia).

For Brenda's rating scale, I wouldn't go as far as to say Pisani Fragolino is a dud, but it's neither a special sparkler nor a cheap and cheerful party sparkler (not at A$20 a bottle).

Please do give Fragolino a try. There's nothing better than a cold, red, dessert wine with the perfume of strawberries and the faint kiss of bubbles!

I thought I'd give you a bit of background on Fragolino, just in case people are interested in how the grape came into being.

In the late 1800s phylloxera infestations had destroyed many European vineyards and it was discovered that importing disease resistant North American vines and grafting them with European varieties led to a phylloxera resistant grape. In Italy and Austria the Vitis vinifera was crossed with the American Vitis labrusca, a grape which contained heady strawberry aromas. Thus the Uva Americana or Fragola was born.

Fragola's origins have caused quite a controversy. Given the European Union's tough protection of traditionally produced wines and grapes, Fragolino causes an issue because of its American origins. In order to protect the production of European grapes, wine produced from Fragola grapes was banned from sale right up until the mid 1990s. Most of the consumption was private and localised to Italy and Austria (where Fragolino is known as Uhudler).

This attitude towards such a delicious creation surprises me. It seems like preservation of heritage taken to the utmost extreme. This is particularly so if you consider that even though the grape came from the Americas, the semi-sparkling wine is most certainly a European invention. And surely Europe can continue inventing and developing? Surely it should be about continual evolution not just maintaining the status quo?

So with that potentially controversial opening of a can of wine worms, please check out Brenda's two part recap here and here to see what other sparklers tickled peoples' fancy.


Tuesday, 12 December 2006

cochin restaurant

61 Fitzroy Street,
Surry Hills, Sydney
T: +61 2 9358 5388
Chef: Connor Phung
For photos click here.

For Jonas’ birthday in October a group of eight gathered to sample the tasting menu at Cochin, a restaurant famous for its fusion of French and South East Asian cuisines. Although absorbing attributes from all over the region, chef Connor Phung does lean heavily on his Vietnamese heritage and his French culinary training.

The venue was small and intimate, with large dark wood tables and wooden chairs softened with leather cushions. Diners were huddled together at close quarters but this added to the enhanced atmosphere of the small room.

Staff were very friendly and obliging but unfortunately confused. Between our three waiters we learnt what each dish contained, but this was a team effort because not one of them could give a solo explanation of a dish. This may be a product of the usual customers, people in groups just wanting the enjoy the long pace of a tasting menu, but our table was very interested in each dish and was surprised that the waiters didn’t pick up on this and arrived more prepared.

Although Cochin catered well for vegetarians (which I had checked when booking), our waiter did a poor version of selling it to us. He downplayed the quality of the vegetarian meal ($69) and was very concerned that the vegetarians would get a bad deal compared to the omnivores ($79). He wanted to manage expectations but he made their meal sound terribly negative before it even commenced and this put a slight dampen on the beginning.

In the end the two vegetarians at our table were more than pleased with the meal they received. Out of the possible fourteen courses, vegetarians could enjoy seven and those eating seafood could eat nine. It sounds rough, but the portions were significantly increased to compensate and the price was reduced a little as well. Cochin, be proud of your menus!

And here it is, the tasting menu in full.

Hot & Cold Pea Soup w Mint Oil (V)
A shot glass was layered with cold pea soup, icy and crunchy, then topped with the very same soup heated through, warm and smooth. The surface was drizzled with mint oil to deliver a strange start to the meal.

Pork Terrine w Duck Liver Foam
A crunchy biscuit was topped with a thick slice of sweet pork terrine. Shredded lotus root provided a refreshing contrast and duck liver foam was a mashed pate, earthy and sweet at once. Garnished with a neat coriander leaf, I was surprised that I enjoyed this option, considering I dislike pate immensely and more often than not turn my nose up at terrine. This obvious fusion between French and Vietnamese won me over.

Crispy Boneless Chicken & Cauliflower Risotto Rice Paper Roll
Spiced heavily with salt and pepper, the chicken skin was certainly crispy while the flesh remained moist. The risotto had an elegant flavour and the overall presentation was an open rice paper roll. Squiggles of peppered aioli added extra kick and the overall flavour combination provided a delicious mild burn of black pepper. I really enjoyed this.

Cucumber & Mint Sorbet (V)
This was more like an ice than a sorbet because the consistency was not smooth at all. The flavour was refreshingly cucumber with a strong mint finish. Unfortunately it was half melted liquid - half ice and had spilt out of the little spoons and onto the plate. In the end it was a little boring, but did clean the palate in preparation for the seafood dishes.

Scampi & Green Mango Salad
Shredded green mango was dressed in a sweet ginger and rice wine sauce and served with pieces of grilled scampi. The flesh was plump and sweet with a slight smokiness from the grilling and the mango added a fresh sour edge. The proportion of scampi to mango salad was a little low, but the flavours were excellent.

Tuna w Sesame & Cucumber
Morsels of delicious tuna had been lightly seared and kept raw and pink on the inside. Scattered with black sesame seeds and strips of cucumber, the fish was dressed with a light soy. A wonderful course!

Straw Mushrooms w Garlic & Coconut (V)
Served like garlic champignons at a tapas bar were slippery gem-like straw mushrooms, floating in a pan of sugary, garlicky coconut sauce. This simple dish tasted absolutely divine.

Beetroot & Capsicum w Ginger Vinaigrette (V)
Beetroot and yellow capsicum had been roasted and dressed in ginger vinaigrette. Following the concept of pickled vegetables, this dish added a sweet-sour element to the meal.

Lotus Root & Rice Crackers (V)
Encased in rice cracker cups were served the tiny diced lotus roots. Their classic tubular Stems mixed with what I think was shredded coconut as well as mint and coriander.

Slow Cooked Duck w Fermented Tofu & Brandy Sauce
Duck legs and partial cuts of breast came cooked in a rich, red broth of brandy and pungent fermented tofu. The sauce took on a mild, alcoholic kick and was quite sweet. The duck flaked away from the bone easily, but the flesh itself was not very rich. I loved the red sauce and drenched it over accompanying rice.

Peanut Tofu, Fried Shallots & Watercress (V)
This was probably the highlight of my evening. The extremely soft tofu disintegrated at the touch of the spoon like melting jelly and the rich, wonderful peanut flavour had permeated every morsel. Fried shallots added crunchy texture but the watercress was a little superfluous. Unbelievably good dish.

Rack of Lamb w Mirepoix & Cabernet Sauvignon Sauce
Gorgeous French-trim lamp chops were cooked to rosy perfection and elegantly paired with a red wine sauce. The sauce was described as a mirepoix base, but I only noticed onion and carrot. The celery seemed to be missing from the culinary holy trinity. Nonetheless, this was scrumptious and I thoroughly enjoyed this course.

Venison w Chocolate Sauce
Our last savoury dish was juicy, pink venison doused in savoury chocolate. The strong game meat matched well with the bittersweet chocolate sauce. The meat came on a bed of braised cabbage and was a quirky mix of Mexican and Eastern European cuisine.

Green Apple Sorbet (V)
Again, the sorbet was not smooth and elegant but had an extremely icy texture. The flavour was sweet yet refreshing and so had it been the right texture I would have adored this palate cleanser. Such a shame each sorbet was so icy.

Crepe Suzette w Candied Cumquats (V)
Flat crepes were cooked in the traditional way and topped with vanilla ice cream and sweet, intense cumquat preserve. This was tasty, yet the generous serving of jam was slightly overpowering.

Dessert Platter (V)
These five exquisite little desserts were a great end to the meal. An Espresso Marquise was thick, moussey and rich with chocolate. The Raspberry-Rum Chocolate Cream couldn’t go wrong with the divine pairing of luscious raspberry and dark chocolate. I simply adore this combination. The Ginger & Rhubarb crumble had a strong kick of ginger spice and the Lime & Ginger Brûlée was tangy and refreshing. The Cardamom Parfait with Pandan & Palm Sugar Syrup was probably my favourite because the cardamom ice cream was such an elegant surprise. Spicy and cold all at once and the slight bitterness of the cardamom contrasted nicely with the green, sweetness of the pandan syrup.

Coffee w Condensed Milk (V)
As most meals do, Cochin’s degustation ended with coffee. This was a strong Vietnamese style coffee laced with thick, sweet condensed milk. Since I don’t drink coffee I’m told it was very good but very sweet.

With our meal we drank:
2005 Jim Barry Watervale Riesling (Clare Valley, SA, Australia)
2004 Forrest Estate Gewürtztraminer (Marlborough, New Zealand)
2004 Waipura Hills Gewürtztraminer (Marlborough, New Zealand)

Gewürtztraminer (my pick) and Riesling are excellent wines to pair with the spicy, strong flavours of South East Asian cuisine.

Overall, a good meal with loads of food in a funky yet elegant dining room. Cochin is well worth a visit.

For the full photo album, click here.


Monday, 11 December 2006

chilled mulled riesling

It's Mixology Monday again! I really look forward to this monthly event because I love making cocktails and it's such a great excuse to get creative.

This month the theme is "Drinks for a Festive Occasion" and it's hosted by Brenda at The Spirit World.

Around Christmas Jonas and I go into intensive cocktail mode. It's summer here after all and everyone is on holidays and ready to drink!

We usually make three particular cocktails at Christmas: glögg (Swedish mulled wine eaten with raisins and ginger biscuits) lingonberry daiquiris and mumma a pungent Swedish gin, porter and cola punch flavoured heavily with cardamom (kardemumma in Swedish, hence the drink's name).

Mulled wine is fantastic, but not so great in the scorching Australian summer so when I discovered this recipe for chilled mulled Riesling I just had to try it out.

I'm undecided about the results. While it was incredibly refreshing, the presence of citrus and fresh thyme gave the kerosene and lime notes of Riesling a slight medicinal quality that I wasn't expecting.

Of the four of us that drank it: Karen simply adored it, Tim Y thought it was pretty good, I thought it was worth making again and Jonas kept telling me it tasted like cough lozenges.

This recipe is either one that you love or shrug at nonchalantly, but I don't think anyone would really hate it.

Chilled Mulled Riesling
Recipe in Gourmet Traveller December 2006 issue. Makes approximately 6 glasses.

1 bottle of Riesling (750ml)
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
Rind of a lemon
Rind of an orange
¼ cup sugar (55g)
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons honey
Lemon and orange slices to serve
1. In a large pot combine water, rind, thyme, honey and sugar and stir until sugar dissolves, approximately 5 minutes.
2. Add Riesling and heat for a further 10 minutes.
3. Strain and return to Riesling bottle, then refrigerate until chilled.
4. Serve chilled in a jug with slices of lemon and orange and plenty of ice.

Be sure to check out the other festive drinks at Brenda's recap on The Spirit World.


recipe carousel #26 - rice

After last week’s very successful Festive Food Fair I’m back to the regular Monday Recipe Carousel of seven unique or interesting recipes under a random theme.

This week the theme is rice.

Native to tropical and subtropical Asia and Africa, rice cultivation has spread all over the globe and it is the third largest crop in the world, after corn and wheat. It is also the most consumed cereal grain in the world with at least half of the global population eating rice daily.

Since rice is so important to so many cultures, I have dedicated this week’s Recipe Carousel to rice recipes, both recognised and refreshing.

Paella is transformed beautifully from Spain to Béa’s table in the USA (La Tartine Gourmande). Béa’s version is beautifully rustic and layered with field, mountain and sea, as any good paella should be. She uses chicken, pork and chorizo as well as mussels, squid and prawns. Capsicum (peppers), artichokes and peas add the vegetable content in this hearty main course and saffron provides the golden hue synonymous with Spain’s most famous rice dish.

Koa Mook Gai (Coconut Chicken Curry Rice) is a southern Thai dish from Appon (Appon’s Thai Food). Rich with curry powder, coconut milk and spices, this is a Muslim style meal from the area near the Malaysian border. Chicken legs are fried then cooked with coconut milk, cinnamon, curry powder and rice. The dish is served with a spicy sauce made of ginger, chilli, garlic, soy sauce and fish sauce.  

Radicchio & Taleggio Risotto is stirred up by Ilva in Italy (Lucullian Delights). She uses the elegant red leaves of radicchio di treviso in this simple, comforting risotto. As Ilva explains, radicchio is best eaten cooked or grilled and in this recipe the leaves are fried then cooked with the rice. At the end of the cooking process cubes of taleggio, a soft cow’s milk cheese (with a mild fruity flavour), are stirred through until melted.

Caribbean Peas & Rice is a hearty side dish from Patti in the USA (Adventures in Food & Wine). In this dish she uses the Caribbean’s favourite pea: the pigeon pea. Also known as the goongoo, gunga or congo pea, pigeon peas can be substituted with yellow-eyed peas or black-eyed peas if you can’t get gold of them. In this recipe, Patti fries bacon, bell peppers, onion and garlic then adds brown rice, paprika, thyme, pigeon peas and tomato paste. This is cooked until the rice is tender.

Miriyala Annam (Pepper Rice) is a spicy side dish from Sailu in India (Sailu's Food). The English word pepper is derived from the Sanskrit Pippali and black pepper is an ancient and valuable commodity which just happens to be my very favourite spice. Black peppercorns, sesame seeds and curry leaves are dry roasted before being ground into a coarse powder and then fried with ghee, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. These are then mixed through cooked long grain rice. Sailu says the aromatic flavour of curry leaves and mild nutty taste of sesame seeds are a perfect match with the volatile oils of the black pepper and she recommends serving it with any curry, plain rasam, pappadam or curds.

Riz au Lait au Chocolat (Chocolate Rice Pudding) is a French rice dessert served to us by Fanny in France (Food Beam). It is traditionally flavoured with vanilla or cinnamon, but because Fanny is a chocolate fiend she brings us this decadent version. Milk chocolate is melted through Arborio rice after it is softened with milk, sugar and vanilla beans. The dessert is then divided into individual dishes and served chilled.

Black Rice Pudding comes from Brendon in the USA (Something in Season). Black rice is slowly cooked until tender with coconut milk and palm sugar in this delicious dessert. The black glutinous rice, also known as Forbidden Rice, makes a wonderful sticky finish to any meal and Brendon adds a touch of cinnamon as his own twist to this Thai classic.

Add your own recipe!
If you want to link in your own rice recipe and share the love around, just leave the link in the comments section. You didn’t have to invent the recipe yourself, just make it and post it on your site. The whole idea of Recipe Carousel is that good recipes are shared with people who love to cook.
Note: Usual comments are more than welcome but all html links must be recipe related (yours or others).

Check out other Recipe Carousel themes: festive food, legumes/pulses, eggs, pancakes, breakfast, raw food, berries, dips, cocktails, pasta, yoghurt, crispy snacks, vegetable desserts, fruit in savoury food, made from scratch, strawberries, jam, bread, seafood mains, ice cream, soup, chocolate and drinks.


Saturday, 9 December 2006

nights of malta

My sister, Shamu, was visiting Sydney one weekend and I had to think of something yummy to cook for dinner. Given that one the challenges I’ve set myself is to cook a dish from every country in the world, I asked Jonas to pick a country off the top of his head and he chose Malta.

Now I needed to do some research to come up with a little Maltese feast.

Malta is such an interesting island. Floating in the Mediterranean, somewhere between Tunisia, Libya and Italy, it has a history with a convergence of very diverse cultures.

I have never been to Malta but I have met many Maltese. One of my lovely work colleagues (Carolyn) is Maltese and there is a significant Maltese population in Australia too.

First ruled by Phoenicians then Carthagians, Romans, Byzantinians, Vandals, Arabs, Sicilian Normans, Angevine, Hohenstaufen, Aragonese, Napoleonic France, Britain and then finally independence in 1964.

This history is reflected in the Maltese language which uniquely consists of three linguistic groups: Semetic (Arabic), Romantic (Italian) and Germanic (English). Maltese is in fact 40% Koranic Arabic (this old version of Arabic is used in Malta for common words used such as man, woman, summer etc), 40% Romantic (derived from Sicilian and used for expressing ideas, culture and government) and 20% English loan words.

It’s interesting to learn that the Semitic words are used heavily in Church and in poetry and literature whereas the Romance words are used in intellectual speech. This means that Italian speakers can often guess what is being said in a formal document (because they are heavily Romance influenced) but they couldn’t even come close to understanding simple sentences (because they are Semitic derived).

Yes, I’m a geek for languages.

But back to my other geeky pursuit – food.

I did some web research and came across a few sites with some interesting Maltese meals. I chose a salad (chickpea & lupini) and a stew (artichoke), both vegetarian.

Chickpea & Lima Bean Salad

Taken from Maltese Food & Recipes. Serves 4.

Lima beans, canned
Chickpeas, canned
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Parsley, chopped finely
Mint, chopped finely

1. Mix the beans with the olive oil and garlic
2. Add the herbs
3. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Great eaten with bread that’s been rubbed with tomato and anchovies and served with olives.
Note: I couldn’t find canned lima beans so I used lupini instead (which, incidentally are fantastic beer snacks too).

Stuffat tal-Qaqocc (Artichoke Stew)

Taken from Traditional Maltese Recipes. Serves 4.

4 large tender artichokes
4 small onions, finely chopped
200g broad beans, both skins removed
200g shelled peas
400g fresh or canned tomatoes, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs
4 gbejna (fresh goat cheese)

1. Prepare the artichokes by removing all tough outer leaves, completely cut off the tops of remaining leaves and remove the choke with the aid of a teaspoon. Cut the artichokes in halves and put in a basin covered in water lemon juice.
2. In the meantime, heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onions and gently fry until soft.
3. Add the garlic and as soon as it turns golden, add the tomatoes.
4. Bring to the boil add the parsley and seasoning, lower the flame and add the artichoke hearts.
5. When these are almost done, add the broad beans and peas. At this stage you may have to add a little water, to make sure all the vegetables are covered. Continue simmering until the vegetables are tender.
6. Make a hollow and add the egg and the gbejna. As soon as the egg is poached serve the stew hot.
Note: I couldn't get fresh broad beans so I threw in some asparagus for good measure.

This week Weekend Herb Blogging is being hosted by Pookah from What's Cooking in Carolina. Be sure to visit the recap!

Just in case you’re interested to learn a little something more about Malta, here are some facts direct from Wikipedia:
• Currently the smallest EU country in both population and area.
• Although there are some small rivers at times of high rainfall, there are no permanent rivers or lakes on Malta.
• 98% of the Maltese population are Roman Catholic, making the nation one of the most Catholic countries in the world.
• Around 45 % of illegal immigrants landed in Malta have been granted refugee (5%) or protected humanitarian status (40%), which is the highest rate of acceptance in the EU.
• Malta produces only about 20% of its food needs, has limited freshwater supplies, and has no domestic energy sources.
• Malta’s major industries are limestone, freight (shipping point), electronics and textiles manufacturing and tourism.
• Malta has been inhabited since around 5200 BCE and structures on the island predate the Pyramids at Giza by a millennium.
• Malta's population density of 1,282 per square kilometre (3,322/sq mi) is by far the highest in the EU and one of the highest in the world.
• Malta is the only nation in the world that has collectively been awarded the George Cross for conspicuous gallantry.
• The official languages are English and Maltese. Italian is also widely spoken.
• Maltese is the only Semitic based language to be the official language of a European country.
• The Maltese alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet, but uses the diacritically altered letters ż, also found in Polish, as well as the letters ċ, ġ and ħ, which are unique to Maltese.


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