Sunday, 27 February 2011

persian pomegranate soup

Ash-e Anār

I first heard of this Persian soup when a friend gave me the gorgeously designed 2006 Marsha Mehran novel called Pomegranate Soup.

Despite my lukewarm response to the book, I had an overwhelming urge to slurp down this sour, tangy soup rich with Middle Eastern flavours and aromas.

When I finally made it, I wasn’t disappointed. The pomegranates give it a sour, earthy flavour and the lamb adds intensity and richness.

This type of Iranian stew is thick and hearty with chunky ingredients. I highly recommend it.

Persian Pomegranate Soup (Ash-e Anar)

Anna’s adaptation of various bloggers' recipes. Serves 4.

1kg lamb, diced
2 onions, thinly diced
6 garlic cloves
½ cup yellow split peas
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups (1 litre) beef stock
2 cups (500ml) water
½ cup parsley & coriander tender stems, very finely chopped
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
1 small beetroot, peeled & diced finely
¼ cup basmati rice
2 cups pomegranate juice*
¼ cup pomegranate molasses
1 cup green scallions, chopped
½ cup fresh coriander, chopped
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds for garnish
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped for garnish
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped for garnish
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped for garnish

1. In a large pot, brown the lamb in batches and then set aside,

2. Next add in the onion and garlic cloves and cook until tender.

3. Add in split peas, salt, black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon stick and Aleppo pepper and stir for a minute.

4. Add stock and 2 cups water. Bring to the boil then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Stir in rice, mint, parsley and coriander stems and beetroot. Simmer, partially covered, for another 20 minutes.

6. Add the lamb and its juices, the pomegranate juice and pomegranate molasses. Simmer for 10 minutes.

7. Taste soup to balance out sweet and sour. Add more pomegranate juice (or lemon juice) to increase acidity or a little sugar for sweetness.

8. Add scallions (green parts), coriander, parsley and lemon zest and simmer for another 5 minutes until herbs have wilted slightly.

9. Ladle soup into serving bowls then garnish with pomegranate seeds and fresh herbs.

Note: *I managed to get around 2 cups from 3 very large and juicy pomegranates.

This recipe, with pomegranate as the theme ingredient, is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Simona from Briciole.

Friday, 25 February 2011

capital grill & pomegranates

When I was invited to Capital Grill, in Sydney’s Circular Quay, I have to admit I hadn’t heard of it.

It was in a familiar building, The Gateway, where I’d had many meetings but the grill itself hadn’t been there before.

What a difference its arrival has made to the area, providing a long open bar protected from the elements yet open to the breeze coming off the Harbour. It was clear from the tables filled with suits that it was a popular spot for a post-work drink and meal. I imagine the business lunch crowd would be equally enamoured.

Is that an angel with halo & wings? 
No it's Chef Mike delivering my dinner!

The Restaurant Manager (Ron) and Chef (Mike) made Jonas and I right at home for the special pomegranate tasting menu we were there to sample. True hospitality.

Our amuse bouche to start was a beautiful, strong flavoured Berkshire sausage on radicchio with slices of creamy, fresh avocado, glistening pomegranate jewels and tangy aioli. The flavours were well-balanced with no bitterness from the raw radicchio. Jonas loved this so much he wanted to order a side of Berkshire sausage!

Sydney Rock Oysters ($3.80 ea)
Freshly shucked w pomegranate granita, cracked pepper

Next up were lovely Sydney rock oysters from Foster, served natural with a simple pomegranate granita flecked with freshly milled black pepper and finely diced shallots. It was sweet but still had an acidity which matched well with the oysters. These were the first raw oysters that Jonas actually liked, which I should add had been perfectly back shucked (from the hinge). Too often in this city oysters are shucked from the brittle end of their shells leaving unpleasant shards for diners. It’s wonderful when a kitchen takes the time and effort to undertake the more difficult but ultimately more rewarding back shuck.

Back shuck . . . does that sound rude? Ahem, moving right along.

House Cured Atlantic Salmon ($18)
Pomegranate, crisp caper aioli, potato thins, shaved fennel

Cured Atlantic salmon was exquisitely flavoured, the fattiness of the fish perfect against thin slices of waxy kipfler potato, briny capers and crunchy shaved fennel. Aioli laced the plate, again accompanied by bejewelled pomegranate seeds. I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would.

But then again, I love pomegranate anything!

Grilled Kingfish ($30)
Crisp bacon, spring peas, bouillabaisse sauce

In addition to the pomegranate menu, the chef added an extra course of grilled kingfish. It was a mild flavoured fish with a robust seafood sauce, texture from the peas and a wonderful sweet smokiness from the crisp pieces of speck.

This came with a side of steamed broccoli with sugar snap peas and garlic confit ($8).

Mango Martini ($17)
Fresh mango and grapefruit, pomegranate frozen vodka liqueur

We were almost too full for the dessert, but the light fruity option was a perfect finish. Served in a martini glass, fresh slippery cubes of mango flesh were served alongside bitter pink grapefruit segments that had been doused in icy cold pomegranate vodka. The macerate fruit was topped with a rich cream, heavily laden with vanilla beans, the white dollop flecked with millions of tiny black specks.

With this we were sated and leant back into our chairs to rub our bellies and chat to Chef Mike who confessed he had been a food blogger too (Scallops & Pancetta) before this chef role took up all his time. Perhaps that’s why he and his crew were so relaxed with me snapping away at all the food that hit my table.

After such a lovely, relaxing meal and drinks we discovered that everything was entirely on the house. We knew some of it would be “gifted” but not everything (wow, thank you)!

With that in mind, we made sure we left a good tip. That’s only fair, afterall.

Morsels & Musings dined courtesy of Capital Grill and POM Wonderful.

Capital Grill
The Gateway Building, 1 Macquarie Place
Circular Quay, Sydney

Thursday, 17 February 2011

rhubarb & strawberry w chocolate custard

I know I’ve been remiss. It’s been 14 days since my last post.

So here’s something to sweeten you up. Luscious vanilla-scented rhubarb and strawberry puree with a thick, rich intensely chocolate custard.

Served with palmiers, it's bloody great.

Vanilla, Rhubarb & Strawberry Compote
w Chocolate Custard

Vanilla, Rhubarb & Strawberry Compote
Anna’s very own recipe. Makes 300ml.

1 vanilla pod
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
5 stalks rhubarb, chopped into small pieces
200g strawberries, hulled and chopped

1. Slice vanilla pod in half lengthways, scrape out seeds and put in pot. Add pod as well.
2. To pot, add rhubarb and sugar and a little water.
3. Heat gently until sugar dissolves and rhubarb starts to produce its own liquid.
4. Add a little more water and half the strawberries and cook until rhubarb softens further.
5. Mash rhubarb into purée, then add remaining strawberries pieces and water if you feel the mixture is too dry.
6. Cook until strawberries soften slightly, but you want them to hold their shape to create texture to the purée.
7. Remove from heat and cool. Remove vanilla pod before serving.

Chocolate Custard
Anna’s very own recipe. Makes 1 litre.

180g dark chocolate
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon cornflour
¼ cup sugar

1. In a bowl, combine egg yolks and cornflour into a paste.
2. In a saucepan, heat milk, sugar, cream and chocolate over a medium heat until chocolate melts and mixture almost comes to a slow boil.
3. Whisking continually (to ensure the eggs don’t scramble), pour the hot chocolate mixture onto the eggs a little at a time. Fully combine then return to the saucepan.
4. Heat mixture, stirring continuously, until it thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
5. Eat hot or chilled (chilled version thickens even further).

Thursday, 3 February 2011

wild rabbit, green olive & marjoram pappardelle

Kung Hei Fat Choy / Gong Xi Far Tsai !

Today is the first day of Chinese New Year and therefore the first day of the Year of the Rabbit.

My city council has listed some of the important customs of the Chinese New Year:

• Greet people with "Kung Hei Fat Choy", or "Gong Xi Far Tsai" (Happy New Year) to bring good fortune and prosperity.
• Keeping an empty seat at the table to symbolise the presence of family members who can't be there.
• In the lead up, clean your house to sweep out the bad luck of the previous year but don't clean on New Years Day or you'll sweep away the good luck of the new year.
• Let the old year out by opening every door and window in the house on the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve.
• Pay off all debts and cast all grudges aside.
• Do not use knives or scissors on New Year's Day as this may cut off fortune.
• On New Year's Day wear new clothes and be on your best behaviour, as actions on this day set the tone for the year to follow.
• Ward off bad luck by draping red cloth on your doorway.
• The Kitchen God, the guardian of the family hearth, will be reporting to heaven on the behaviour of the family over the past year, so make sure you feed him with sweet foods and honey to ensure he says sweet things about you.

I love the idea that I have a Kitchen God!

There are twelve signs in the Chinese zodiac, but only six are edible (according to moi).

I demonstrated this with seven days of pork recipes to bring in the Year of the Pig back in 2007, but unfortunately I didn’t get my act together for the Year of the Ox back in 2009.

This year I won’t be caught out and am offering up this sumptuous rabbit pasta, care of Mr Jamie Oliver.

I’m still not sure whether cooking the animal of honour is sacrilegious or not, but since no one has told me otherwise I suppose I can look forward to greeting in 2012 and the Year of the.....Dragon!

The flavours of this dish are herbal and comforting.

It’s easy to make, but it does involve a lot of steps and waiting period for marinating and roasting and cooling and reducing and boiling.

But it’s worth it.

Pappardelle w Wild Rabbit, Green Olives & Marjoram

1 wild rabbit, jointed
Olive oil
2 knobs butter
Few sprigs fresh thyme, picked over (reserve some for serving)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 cloves garlic
3 wineglasses white wine
600g pappardelle pasta
Small handful green olives, stoned and roughly chopped
Bunch of fresh marjoram
Handful freshly grated Parmesan
Zest of ½ orange or lemon (optional)

Small bunch of fresh thyme, picked over
6 cloves garlic, crushed
Glug of olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon


1. The night before, mix the marinade ingredients together and rub them all over the rabbit pieces. Leave them to marinate overnight in the fridge (can be left like this for up to 2 days for a stronger flavour).

2. Preheat oven to 180’C and in a large, heavy-bottomed ovenproof saucepan, heat some olive oil and a knob of butter.

3. Season rabbit with salt and pepper then add to the pan and brown for a couple of minutes on each side until golden.

4. Add thyme, rosemary and garlic cloves then stir and add wine to almost cover the meat.

5. Cover with lid then cook in the oven for 2 hours or until the meat pulls away from the bone easily. Cool meat in juices.

6. When cool, shred the meat with your hands into 2.5cm strips and discard bones.

7. Remove the rosemary, thyme and garlic and heat to reduce juices to slightly thickened liquor (add optional tomatoes here).

8. Turn heat to low and add marjoram, olives and shredded meat. Stir and season to taste.

9. Boil pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and reserve a little cooking water.

10. Turn up heat under meat sauce and toss through remaining knob of butter, orange/lemon zest (optional) and cooked pappardelle. You may need to add a little pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce.

11. Serve immediately with reserved thyme leaves.

Variation: in the photo in the cookbook, the juices are quite red which leads me to believe a tomato was added somewhere along the process. I added two chopped, skinned tomatoes when I reduced the juices and they broke down perfectly.

This is my contribution to Presto Pasta Nights founded and hosted by Ruth from Once Upon A Feast


This is a short shout out to Ms Correct, who loves a good bunny and adores pappardelle. Let's just hope her fiance 007 can tear himself away from bombing small villages and assassinating dictators to get his ass back to Oz sometime soon. You heard me B-Rad! Put down that Blackberry / MI5 receiver and get on a plane!!!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

try this! summer thirst quenchers

I know I'm sticking to the drink theme but Sydney has been steaming hot over the past few weeks, just when our air conditioner called it quits and started coughing up water in a steady stream. Not happy.

I have wilted and Jonas has positively melted into the Emperor of Grumpiness.

Naturally, this has made me very, very thirsty and I’ve found myself pondering cool, tall drinks much more than I normally would.

I’ve decided to share some of my drinks-of-choice with you, and hope that you too find thirst quenching joy from these refreshing beverages.

Bickford Ice Tea Mixers
These are delicious. With chilled soda water, these mixer scan turn any frown up-side-down. They come in lemon, mango and (my pick) peach.

Kopparberg Pear Cider
Whenever I taste this cider, images of Swedish summer flood my mind. The flavour is light and sweet and definitively pear, but not sickly like Rekorderlig cider (another Swedish brand on the market). My favourite Swedish cider is actually Kiviks Fläderblomscider (halvtorr) which is a semi-dry elderflower cider. But until they sell that here in Australia, I'm sticking to the Kopparberg pear.

Maggie Beer's Sparkling Ruby Cabernet
A glorious drink with all the adult pleasures of wine and none of the hangover. Read more here.

Cusumano Insolia
Made from the little-known insolia grape, this Sicilian wine will electrify you with its utter awesomeness, considering its incredibly cheap price (approx $11). Like all good Sicilian white wines, you can taste the sunshine, making it perfect for a summer afternoon.

Boylans Cane Sugar Sodas
How can anyone complain when sodas start coming in wonderful flavours like grape, black cherry and orange cream (truly exotic in Australia). These gourmet American soda pops are made from pressed cane sugar juice rather than corn syrup, and this hasn’t changed since they started way back in 1891. Stay tuned for their signature Red Birch Beer which will hopefully be released in Australia soon.

Happy Lemon
This Hong Kong bubble tea vendor is pumping out some pretty interesting drinks that put Easy Way to shame. My pick, Lemon Pineapple with Nata de Coco, is delicious but very tame given other options like grapefruit coffee, perilla juice, seaweed jelly, yakult mousse and rock salt cheese.

A Basque drink perfect for afternoons spent outdoors or on the beach. 50-50 red wine and cola sounds terrible, but it turns out to be a match made in summery heaven and, given that each ingredient masks the other, you can use the cheap stuff.

Lingonberry Cordial
While many late adopters are only just coming to terms with the heady-scents of elderflower cordial, another Nordic treat is already here and awaiting your homage. Also known as cowberries, lingon are similar to cranberries but with a slightly sweeter edge. They make a mean daiquiri too.

Dr Pepper
I can never quite understand why Dr Pepper isn’t a big hit in Australia. Aussies just hate the taste. Why? I don't understand! It’s friggin’ delicious! Jonas and I both love Dr Pepper and I think it tastes like a cross between a cherry soda and a vanilla cola.

Yuzu Slushie at Ms G's
If you’re in Sydney and living under a rock, Ms G’s is the latest star in the Merivale constellation and has been modelled on NYC’s über-cool Momofuku. I have been there so many times the waitstaff recognise me. Why? The absolutely divine slushies made from yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit, as well as vodka, limoncello and orange bitters. I can’t even begin to explain how out-of-control delicious these slushies are, not to mention tres chic with their bubble tea wrappers. Get one for yourself and you’ll understand.

Happy drinking!
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