Sunday 28 August 2011

bacon jam

Bacon and jam. Mmmm.

How can bacon slow cooked in maple syrup and sugar be wrong?
That’s right, it can’t.

The first time I saw this recipe, I was in awe.

I emailed Lorraine, (aka Not Quite Nigella) and started asking a bunch of questions. Her answers only intrigued me further.

When I finally got around to making it, I kicked myself for not dabbling sooner.

Not only is it extremely delicious, but it’s incredibly versatile too.

Need to pimp some veggies? Throw in a tablespoon of bacon jam for depth of flavour.

Too tired to cook? Improve a toasted cheese sandwich with a little bacon jam.

After a salty-sweet treat? Melt some chocolate with bacon jam for brilliant little bacon chocolate snacks.

The options are endless, unfortunately the bacon jam supplies are not.

I cooked my bacon jam  in my NewWave 5 in 1 MultiCooker so that I didn't have to watch the liquid levels over the hours of cooking.

Bacon Jam

A recipe by Not Quite Nigella. Makes a 250ml jar.

500g smoked bacon (or use regular bacon and liquid smoke)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium brown onion, sliced
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Tabasco sauce (according to taste)
1 cup coffee
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup maple syrup
Black pepper to taste
Extra water


1. In a non stick pan, fry the bacon in batches until lightly browned and beginning to crisp.

2. Using a pair of scissors cut into 1 inch pieces.

3. Fry the onion and garlic in the rendered bacon fat on medium heat until translucent.

4. Transfer the bacon, onion and garlic into a slow cooker or a heavy based cast iron pot and add the rest of the ingredients except for the water.

5. Stove-top method (Lorraine’s method – 30 mins quicker, but involves stirring and checking)
• Simmer for 2 hours adding ¼ of a cup of water every 25-30 minutes or so and stirring (liquid levels should reduce so you have some juices but not too much).
5. Slow cooker method (Anna’s method – two pots and extra 30min, but less action required)
• Simmer for 2 hours, or longer if you like.
• Return to stove top and simmer to reduce liquid, around 30 minutes.

6. When ready, cool for about 15-20 minutes and then place in a food processor.

7. Pulse for 2-3 seconds so that you leave some texture to the “jam” or of course you could keep whizzing and make it a smoother and more paste like.

Note: it needs to be stored in the refrigerator, but note the texture changes (hardens) when it’s cold.

This post has been featured on the wonderful:

Wednesday 24 August 2011

eating & drinking sydney - the guide!

Eating & Drinking Sydney
In stores 1st September 2011
RRP $29.95

Scroll down for details

This is a momentous milestone for me. I am now a published writer!

Although I’ve been published online before, there’s something very fulfilling about a tactile, physical book that has your name scrawled across the cover.

This is Hardie Grant’s new guide to Sydney’s restaurant and bar scene, and I was cast in the role of Chief Contributor, Bars.

The goal of the guide was to capture a cross-section of venues in each of Sydney’s distinct locales and to demonstrate the unique reasons that making any given venue worth a visit. I’m pretty proud with what we achieved.

What does a chief contributor do?

My job was to compile a list of the 200 bars to be reviewed as well as some top 10 and top 5 lists and a few break out boxes on topics like NSW wines and cider. It was tough selecting only 200 bars for inclusion, especially when we had to cover off such a huge geography across Sydney. Some very worthy venues just couldn’t fit in.

Although I wrote many of the bar reviews too, there was an army of other writers out there, drinking and boozing away to give my poor liver some time to recover .

Besides bars, the guide covers restaurants and a cheap eats too. Professional journalist Lizzie Meryment, food critic at The Sunday Telegraph and The Weekend Australian, managed the 330-strong restaurant section and suburban dining expert Helen Yee, blogger of the much celebrated Grab Your Fork, came up with 170 cheap-eats.

Guiding us throughout the creation of this guide was the talented and incredibly supportive Clare Brundle. She was the project manager and editor, flying solo without a sub-editor and doing a marvellous job at getting the content ship-shape and off the publisher. We'd have nothing without her!

Being part of this project was a wonderful experience and I’m so pleased with the final product: this shiny, ultra-professional guide book.

The true test is whether I’d buy it myself and, yes folks, I would!

What were my favourite cocktails?

Having quaffed my way through a myriad of Sydney bars, apart from borderline alcohol dependence, I’ve built myself a list of favourite cocktails. My all time favourite is a well prepared Charlie Chaplin, made from sloe gin, but of the unique inventions I came across, these are the ones that resonate in my memory and draw me back for seconds, thirds and tenths.

The Winery
Rosé Sangria
Rosé wine, Martini Bianco, lemon, strawberries

Grandfather Gus
Chivas Regal 12yr, Disaronno Amaretto and a slice of dried fig

Madame Fling Flong
Madame Coco
Creme de Cacao, Frangelico and Baileys blended with milk. Poured gently into a chocolate sauce coated glass & topped with a light dusting of chocolate powder

Eau de Vie
Smoky Rob Roy
10yr Talisker and 16yr Lagavulin Scotch whiskies, sweet vermouth, Olivia #5 cigar infused Zacapa 23 rum, Laphroaig quartercask rinse, orange bitters and a bourbon infused cherry

Plymouth gin, lime juice, elderflower cordial, apple juice, kaffir lime leaf

Ms G’s
Yuzu Slushie
Limoncello, Russian Standard Vodka, shochu, yuzu juice, yuzu curd and Regans’ orange bitters

The Loft
Baghdad Iced Tea
Cucumber infused vodka shaken with fresh apple, mint, apple liqueur and rose syrup served tall, topped with chilled jasmine tea

Saru Caprioska
Monkey Shoulder Whisky muddled with pineapple, lemon and house-made vanilla & ginger sugar

Gardel’s Bar at Porteño
Banana Old Fashioned
Banana infused Jack Daniels shaken with smoked maple syrup and served on hand-hewn rock ice

Grandma’s Addiction
Clement Creole shrub liqueur shaken with Mandarine Napoleon, Tiki spice syrup, balanced out with fresh lime juice & orange bitters.

Do you want to WIN a copy?

Then tell me, what’s your favourite cocktail?

For Morsels & Musings readers, Hardie Grant is giving away five copies of the Eating & Drinking Sydney!


Tell me, what’s your favourite cocktail or drink?

Leave your answer
1) As a comment on this post (AND email morselsandmusings AT yahoo DOT com DOT au so I can get in touch with you if you win)
2) As a comment on the Morsels & Musing’s Facebook page

Entries close Friday 16th September when five lucky winners will be picked and a guide mailed their way courtesy of publishers Hardie Grant!

Eating & Drinking Sydney
In stores 1st September 2011
RRP $29.95

An iPhone app is on it's way too!

Sunday 21 August 2011

singapore's chilli crab

For my 2011 Food Challenges I committed to learning how to make Singapore’s famous Chilli Crab. And what better way to learn, than to take a class at the Sydney Fish Market’s beautiful, luxurious cooking school: Sydney Seafood School.

The venue is superb. First you gather in a small auditorium, where students watch the dish being prepared by the teacher, complete with cameras broadcasting the detailed elements onto large display screens.

Next you shuffle into the cooking area, complete with stainless steel cooking stations, where the staff move from group to group offering advice and suggestions. Each station is also equipped with expensive hand soap to remove fishy odours and bottles of sparkling mineral water to sip upon. Cooking done in style!

Last, and most exciting, is the dining room where you sit down to eat your creation with a bottle of wine and bottles of mineral water.

It’s a truly wonderful cooking school and I highly recommend it. It’s even a decent place to go on your own, if you can’t find anyone else to join you. I’ve been twice now and made friends each time.

Tourists should take note, Sydney’s fish market is the third largest in the world for volume and is second only to Tokyo’s in terms of variety sold. That’s a whole lot of seafood.

So, what did I learn about buying and preparing crabs?

1. The lustre or shine of a shell, scale or skin indicates the level of freshness. If the seafood is dull, it’s not very fresh.

2. For crustaceans, look at the under carriage, at the legs and head joints, which should be clean. If they are oxidising they aren’t as fresh.

3. Hard shells are best. If a shell is soft it indicates the crustacean has been caught during its moulting period and this means the flesh has absorbed more water. It will be less flavoursome and more mushy.

4. When you buy shellfish, transport it in a cool bag and store it in a bowl covered in plastic wrap in the fridge. Don’t leave it wrapped in the plastic and paper from the shop.

5. To clean, just wipe with a wet cloth. Never wash crab (or seafood other than bivalves) under water as you wash away the oils and flavour and allow the meat to absorb water.

6. To prepare crab, lift the flap under its body, slide your thumb in as far as you can then lift the top shell away, exposing the gills so you can remove them.

7. Use a large, sharp knife and cut with short, hard chops. Sawing motions will only tear the delicate flesh from the shell.

Monday 15 August 2011

stinging nettle & ricotta gnudi

Gnudi are so-called, because they are the filling of a raviolo, without the pasta encasing it. They are, in effect, “nude”.

This recipe is simple and quite elegant. Small ricotta dumplings, flavoured with vitamin-rich nettles, floating in simple chicken broth: it’s absolutely delicious and soul-satisfying.

Using high quality ingredients in this recipe is critical because there’s not much done to each element to disguise inferior quality. Excellent chicken stock, parmesan and ricotta will make all the difference.

You must wear gloves when handling the nettles because getting stung is a nasty experience. Be sure to wash them thoroughly from any grit or potential pesticides.

Blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds, then drain them and refresh under cold water. Wash them again to remove any remaining dirt.

You can use your hands at this point because once they’re blanched, although the barbs still look nasty, they’re soft and sting-free. I promise.

Gnudi all'Ortica con Brodo
(Nettle & Ricotta Dumplings in Broth)

Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 4 as a starter.


200g blanched stinging nettles
200g ricotta
1 egg
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 garlic cloves, grated finely
1 tablespoon wholemeal flour, for binding
1 litre vegetable stock
Zest and juice of a lemon
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
100g parmesan, finely grated
Piece of parmesan rind
Olive oil, for cooking
Salt and pepper, to taste


1. After blanching nettles in boiling water for 30 seconds, make sure to squeeze firmly them to remove excess moisture.

2. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan, add crushed garlic cloves and nettles, salt and pepper and sauté until garlic has softened.

3. In a food processor, blend garlic and nettle mixture with ricotta and egg.

4. Remove and mix in half the parmesan to form a dough (reserve remainder for serving). If it’s too sticky, add a little of the wholemeal flour to bind.

5. Take a teaspoon of mixture and roll into small balls. Set on tray and refrigerate until ready to cook.

6. In one saucepan, bring a lot of salted water to the boil (for cooking gnudi).

7. Meanwhile in another saucepan, bring the chicken stock, parmesan rind and lemon zest to the boil. Reduce to simmer.

8. To cook the gnudi, gently drop them into the boiling water. Cook until they rise to the surface (between 1-3 minutes). Remove with slotted spoon and rest on tray, keeping warm.

9. When gnudi are ready, taste broth for seasoning then discard parmesan rind.

10. Add lemon juice to taste, then ladle into bowls. Add warm gnudi and sprinkle with parsley and parmesan before serving.

Note: If you can’t find nettles, use spinach instead.

This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, this week hosted by Chris from Mele Cotte.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

apple cake w rhubarb & cream cheese glaze

This is the most wonderful apple cake recipe I have ever eaten.

The outside is crunchy, like a fine crust, while the inside is crumbly and moist with chunks of apples and the heady fragrance of cinnamon.

I defy anyone not to like this cake.

The inspiration for this cake came after a visit to the local markets at Eveleigh, where an eccentrically dressed farmer (think Mongolian fur hat and worn leather vest) forced us to taste his Pink Lady apples. He was pushing them on us like a dealer to a junkie, so we begrudgingly accepted a slice and quickly skulked away.

When the sweet-tart fruit hit our lips, we truly became addicted.

Our eyes widened and we looked at each other in shock, as if we’d never truly eaten an apple before. That farmer knew what he was doing, and in a flash Jonas and I had bought ourselves a heavy bag full of luscious Pink Lady apples.

Now we just had to figure out what to do with them all.

There was Roasted Apple Sauce and Chorizo w Apples and we ate the rest just as nature made them.

But the crowning glory was this cake.

Initially I bought rhubarb to make an apple and rhubarb pie but, when I remembered Steph’s Earl Grey Cake with Rhubarb Cream Cheese Glaze, I decided I wanted to nick her frosting idea and smother it all over an apple cake.

A quick search on Google Images to find a cake with the right fluffy interior, and I stumbled across this recipe. Done.

Baking this cake was dead easy and the results were superb. I took the leftovers to work and it was certainly a crowd pleaser at morning tea.

Better still, it was exactly the kind of cake that Jonas loves, and it’s always nice to make him happy.

Apple & Cinnamon Cake

Recipe by Selma Horan via Taryn Cox, The Wife. Serves 12.

2 eggs
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of canola oil
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
3 cups chopped apples


1. Preheat oven to 180’c.

2. Beat eggs in mixing bowl.

3. Add sugar, oil and vanilla.

4. In a separate bowl combine cinnamon, baking soda, salt and flour.

5. Slowly add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until dough has formed.

6. Add chopped apples to dough (if you dont have a kitchen-aid mixture with a dough hook, then it is best to mix in apples by hand as dough becomes very thick.)

7. Pour into a lightly greased bundt cake pan and cook for 45 – 60 minutes.

Rhubarb & Cream Cheese Glaze

Recipe by Steph from Raspberri Cupcakes. Makes plenty.

150g rhubarb, diced
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 tablespoon water
125g cream cheese, softened
1 cup (150g) icing sugar, sifted


1. Place rhubarb in a small saucepan on low heat with lemon zest, sugar and water.

2. Stirring occasionally, simmer rhubarb until soft and cooked through, about 10 minutes.

3. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

4. Puree mixture in a food processor or blender.

5. Place cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth.

6. Add sifted icing sugar and rhubarb puree and beat until smooth.

7. Pour over the top of cooled cake and serve immediately.

Monday 8 August 2011

blue swimmer crab bisque

I have always wanted to make a bisque, a seafood soup heavily flavoured by the shells of crustaceans.

The word bisque sounds so uplifting and fresh, a perfect image for any seafood dish. It seems the etymology of bisque seems to come from the Bay of Biscay, that rather large bite of land missing between Spain and France. Makes sense, no?

Keen to give bisque a whirl, I was pretty excited when I was allocated the Spider Crab Bisque as part of the Murdoch Book's 365 Challenge to cook every recipe from Stéphane Reynaud's 365 Good Reasons to Sit Down to Eat.

The original recipe uses spider crabs, only there weren’t any at my poissonnerie, so I opted for gorgeous blue swimmer crabs. Their azure shells are so photogenic.

The recipe is extremely easy to make and produces a perfect bisque. The extreme shellfish flavour really comes through, with chunks of crab meat adding texture to the velvety soup.

Only problem . . . it seems I don’t actually like bisque.

The moment the soup hit my lips I remembered, with utter disappointment, having eaten this soup in many fine French restaurants, and even at my mother’s table, and never having liked it!

After all the preparation and investment, I couldn’t believe I had forgotten this simple fact.

But don’t let my forgetfulness put you off: this recipe is perfect, so if you like bisque you’ll just love it!

Crab Bisque

Recipe from 365 Good Reasons to Sit Down to Eat by Stéphane Reynaud. Serves 6.

6 fresh spider or blue swimmer crabs
2 potatoes
2 carrots
2 french shallots (eschalots)
3 tablespoons olive oil
250ml (1 cup) white wine
2 very ripe tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste (concentrated puree)
200ml pouring (whipping) cream
Salt and pepper


1. Poach the spider crabs in a large volume of water for 15 minutes.

2. Remove the meat from the shells (this will take a little time) and using a lobster pick, empty out each of the spider crab claws. Also get the roe found in the body cavity.

3. Rinse out the body shells of the crabs in water. They will be used, to our great delight, as tureens for the bisque. Ah, Brittany, the joys you bestow upon us.

4. Peel the potatoes and carrots, cut them into cubes.

5. Peel and slice the shallots.

6. Sauté three-quarters of the shallots with the carrots and potatoes in the olive oil, moisten with the white wine.

7. Add three-quarters of the crabmeat, the tomato and tomato paste, cook for 20 minutes.

8. Add the cream, then puree and season. Serve the bisque in the crab shells, (oh, it's so beautiful).

9. Add the rest of the crabmeat and a few shallot rings.

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