February 28, 2010

Grilled Chicken with Cannellini and Garlic Puree

chicken and cannelini bean puree2

There's nothing worst then having a hard day at work and then coming home to cook a complicated meal. For me, if its easy, takes less than 20 minutes to cook then I'm interested! All I need to do is train Daz to wash the dishes and then I'd be set.

This recipe is simple, straight forward and super quick. I make it from time to time when I have little inspiration and cant be stuffed putting effort into making our weeknight meal. The secret to this dish, if there is one, is to make sure that you have good quality chicken. Nothing worse then biting into a piece of chicken that doesn't taste like chicken. You could substitute the chicken for fish, pork or even some char grilled vegetables.

As you can see from my photos, I love pepper. So whenever I make this I add a generous amount of pepper, so much so that it should be called Grilled Pepper Chicken. For presentation purposes I probably should have used white pepper, but I've never one to be logical.

chicken and cannelini bean puree

Grilled Chicken with Cannellini and Garlic Puree
Serves 2


2 medium sized chicken breast, skin off
1 can of cannellini beans
1 medium brown onion
1 head of garlic
50 mL cream
olive oil


1. Preheat oven at 180C. Break garlic into individual cloves, leaving skin on. Chop onion into quarters, leaving the skin on. Place in a shallow baking tray and toss with a little olive oil. Bake in over for 15 minutes, or until onion and garlic becomes soft.

2. Remove from oven, peel garlic and onion and place in the bowl of a food processor. Wash and drain cannellini beans and add to food processor. Add cream (if you would like to be healthy you can omit the cream and add a little extra olive oil). Process until all combined. Add a drizzle of olive oil until mixture becomes smooth, roughly 2-3 tablespoons. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Sprinkle chicken breast fillets with salt and pepper and rub a little olive oil into flesh. Heat grill pan until smoking and grill chicken beast. Depending on the size of the chicken breast it may take 5-8 minutes each side. Pay particular attention to not over cooking the breast. Once cooked, remove from pan and allow to rest for 2-3 minutes.

4. To arrange on plate, add a generous amount of puree, add chicken breast and top with crispy sage (I couldn't be bother crisping mine, so just put fresh sage on top)

chicken and cannelini bean puree1

February 22, 2010

Cupcake Fun!

Its been a while since my last Cupcake fun! update, and boy have there been a few cupcake floating about. Unfortunately the more I try to ignore cupcakes, the more they jump out at me. I've been so good, I haven't eaten or baked a cupcake in close to 2 months. That might be a factor as to why I've been seeing them so frequently in everyday life. Sometimes cupcakes seem to appear in the most peculiar of places. So here is another installment of cupcake fun!!

A little while ago I noticed that weight watchers had a new spokes person. No it wasn't a reformed overweight celebrity, but none other then our frosted friend the cupcake. Not my first choice as a slimming ambassador, but who am I to deny it the spotlight.

weight watchers cupcake

At first I thought it was an honour, and then it dawned on me that they are portrayed as the evil enemy...yes I am a little slow at picking things up. So my excitement soon gave way to sadness, cupcakes are NOT evil, they are sweet and tasty. But I guess when you have a little extra weight to lose, you tend to blame anything that you can.....and cupcakes don't fight back. According to the ad, they come in peace, personally I like them in pieces....in my tummy!!

weightwatchers cupcake

For months I had been logging into my hotmail account only to be greeted by a little cupcake asking me if I fancied something sweet. So one day I clicked on it....what? it was 3.30pm...I needed sugar. I expected to be taken to delicious and tempting cupcake recipes, instead I stumbled upon bland biscuits and uninspiring cakes, sigh....sadly there is no substitute for a cupcake.


Next, a random tea towel I found. I needed o buy some tea towels for work and went hunting, somehow the cupcakes just find me!! So I promptly purchased half a dozen cupcake tea towels.

cupcake tea towel

If you wash yourself with cupcake soap, you end up smelling like a cupcake right?? Well that's my theory and I'm sticking to it. If you could smell like any cupcake what would it be? I think I'd chose blueberry, for no other reason than sometimes I feel like Violet Beauregarde.

cupcake soap

close up of cupcake soap

I'm not the only one obsessed with cupcakes you know. I've noticed that my local council has gone a little cupcake nutty too. I noticed that the most recent theater guide has feature a few good looking cupcakes gracing the front cover. I flipped and flipped, searching every show listed and did not find one single show which was cupcake related, yes I was a little disappointed. How cool would it be if Hamlet killed his uncle by means of cupcake!! Theater never sounded so good!!

local cupcake

Our local council also has children's shows, so cupcakes make an appearance here too. Thankfully those are the names of the shows and not suggested cupcake flavours. Don't think I'd like to try a wombat stew cupcake!!

local cupcake 2

And last, and definitely my favourite was the most unexpected cupcake appearance of all time. On a lazy Sunday night Daz and I decided to watch a horror movie. Nothing like a whole load of laughing, horror movies are funny right?? Anyway, we watched Drag me to Hell and who did I see.....Miss Cupcake!! And I'm pretty sure the guy in the left hand corner is chomping into a very heavily frosted cupcake. Since we were watching a horror movie I kinda scared Daz, as soon as I saw the cupcakes I let out an almighty scream, of course Daz wasn't expecting it.

drag me to hell cupcakes

Cupcakes are so integrated into our society they seem to go unnoticed. I'll try my hardest to seek them out and make them visible for everyone to see. You can see other installments of cupcake fun here and here.

February 15, 2010

La Luna and Flying High

La Luna Bistro
320 Rathdowns Street
Carlton North, (03) 9349 4888

birthday boy

Recently Daz celebrated his 28th birthday. Hes always looking for a thrill, he absolutely loves flying and would probably order steak at any given chance, so I decided to get him something that he would never forget, an acrobatic flying session and dinner at La Luna. I thought about getting him steak to eat inside the plane but thought that the pilot might get a little distracted, who knows he may have wanted one for himself!

la Luna

The dinner almost didn't happen. After his 40 minute gut flipping, intense and sweaty flying escapade, he felt so sick that we almost called the dinner off, the actual flying didn't make him sick so much, it was the straight but long drive back from Traralgong that made his head woozy. Luckily a quick snooze and a dose of medication.....downed with a ginger beer set him straight and we set off for meat.

cow locations

We started the meal with a few oysters. Nothing better than chewing into that fresh meaty flesh to get all the stomach juices flowing.


Next we had House made cured meats, on this night it was Prosciutto, with poached pear, extra virgin olive oil & crispy croutons. The meat was nice and fresh. V1 had never had good quality prosciutto before and by the end of this dish I suspect she will no longer be buying her cured ham from the Coles deli.


Also for entree we shared a Double baked cheese soufflé with garlic croutons. This was so good. The souffle was so light, you could even see the beautiful big air pockets withing the souffle. I make my own version of this, but mine comes no where near the caliber of this dish. It was delicious, unsurprisingly it disappeared very quickly.


For mains the boys went for the meat. Surprise surprise. La Luna prides themselves on aging their meat on premises, and only have a few cuts available on each night. On this particular night the boys got a scotch fillet, Char-grilled with a creamy buttery mash and pepperonata. I asked the waiter if it was possible to bring Daz's plate with a sprig of parsley on top....considering it was his birthday he should get a dish with a little more effort right? The chefs were so sweet that they actually put the parsley on his steak, class all the way. The boys both jumped into their steaks and all you could hear were moans of enjoyment. So I'm guessing that they liked their steaks.


When I was looking at the menu at home I had decided that I would get the Crackling wrapped loin of roast pork, mash, cabbage, apple salad, red wine jus. When it came to ordering, ALL the girls wanted this dish, so being me AND a food blogger I changed my mind and ordered something else......BIG MISTAKE!! The pork was fantastic. The crackling was so crispy, the apple salad was tart and complimentary to the pork. I don't know weather I was dreaming, but when I had a taste, the pork tasted like it had been marinated it lemon zest, it added such a nice undertone. I think I will try that myself at home. Everyone felt so sorry for me that I had changed my mind that they all gave me a bite from their plate. I think all those small bites combined equaled a whole pork dish in itself. Maybe I should try that more often and get a free meal by just eating a small amount from everyones plate.


pork 2

As a side we ordered some Sautéed kipfler potatoes, garlic & parsley. They were really nice, however I think everyone was too distracted by their main dishes. The potatoes ended up hanging around until dessert. We tried to convince the waitress that we were going to eat them, but sadly I think more than half remained in the bowl.

chat potatoes

I got the john dory fillets with a vegetable salad. I enjoyed the dish, not so much for the actual fish, but the vegetable salad was really good. The squash was cooked so tenderly, but still had a firm bite. I could have happily had an entire plate of that salad. Although the dish was very good, it was still no pork!!


Dessert!! Oh dessert was SOOOO good. I thoroughly recommend going for their cakes if you are having a birthday at La Luna. Cakeage costs $4.50 per person, or $70 for a cake of your choice that they make on premises. I went with the second choice, for 2 reasons really. 1) less fuss if they handle the whole cake thing and 2) it would probably cost me $70 for a cake in the first place PLUS cakeage. I went with a Bombe Alaska, everyone loves a little danger and who doesn't like ice cream? The cake was delicious!! The outside was so fluffy and marshmallowy, followed by a thin layer of vanilla sponge, then a rich creamy ice cream dotted with crunchy toffee. The birthday boy loved it, and so did all the guests, so it was a win win situation. The staff at La Luna were fantastic, they cut the remaining cake into portions, and each of the guests got some to take home. Once again another great touch.

bombe alaska slice2

On the night our group was extremely loud, and dare I say a little obnoxious - mainly me!! But the staff were fantastic, I really can not rave about them enough. I've seen some bad reviews concerning La Luna, but I think the old saying "you gotta try it for yourself" is totally true here. I'll be back for sure, probably to order the pork and a Bombe alaska to myself.


thumbs up

February 8, 2010



This year for Australia Day we did something very traditional, we ate Pavlova and threw thongs. It was such a lovely day that we decided to have a few friends over for a bbq and of course, beers. The day was fantastic, the sun shone and the beers were cool, just the way I like them.

cut Pavlova

We feasted on our bbq and then held the first annual thong throwing competition. Now, my backyard is not massive by any stretch of the imagination, so the good old throng throwing competition where the furthest thong wins was probably not a good idea. Just for the shear fact that the neighbors probably would have gotten annoyed if we kept coming over to retrieve our wayward thongs. So instead I came up with a cleaver plan, it would involve concentration and accuracy. I set a bucket up a fair distance from the thrower, and whomever got the most amount of thongs into the bucket would win. You would think the person who invented the game would be fairly hard to beat.....sadly I was an easy walkover, and was only beaten to last place by Daz. But I suspect he threw the game because he knew last place was in for a cherry ripe!

thong throwing

The winner was announced, after a sudden death face off. Some how no one else had managed to get any thongs into the bucket, except for Miss Coco Chanel and Mad Scientist who both managed to get three in each. After a nail biting last round, Miss Coco Chanel came out the victor.

winning prize

We then all went inside to the comfort that only air conditioning can give on a hot summers day and devoured an entire Pavlova. You can tell a pavlova is good when the only thing you can hear is the crunch of the crispy shell and muffled moans coming from the eaters. I was pretty pleased with myself, the actual Pavlova looked magazine worthy and the inside was just perfect, marshmellowy and heavenly. Daz thought that the crispy shell needed to be thicker, but I guess you cant pleased everyone. The only thing that would have made the Pavlova better was if it was covered in ice cream, I don't know if it would still be technically a Pavlova if it was covered in ice cream.

pavlova piece

Pavlova (I used a Donna Hay recipe with a few very minor modifications)
Serves 8–10.

150ml eggwhite (approximately 4 eggs)
Pinch of cream of tartar and
Pinch of Salt
1 cup (220g) caster (superfine) sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch), sifted
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 cup (250ml) single (pouring) cream
½ cup passionfruit pulp (approximately 4 passionfruit)
250g strawberries, hulled and halved
Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F).


1. Place the eggwhite in the bowl of an electric mixer with cream of tartar and salt, whisk until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, whisking well, until the mixture is stiff and glossy. This may take a while, at least 5 minutes
2. Add the cornflour and vinegar and whisk until just combined. Shape the mixture into an 18cm round on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Reduce oven to 120°C (250°F) and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes.

3. Turn the oven off, open the oven door and leave ajar and allow the pavlova to cool completely in the oven.

pavlova shell

4. Whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Spread over the pavlova, top with passionfruit and strawberries and serve immediately.

* You’ll know when the meringue is stiff and glossy because the mixture will have tripled in volume and stands up when the beaters are lifted.
* The low heat puffs up the meringue while the long cooking time dries it out to give you a lovely crisp shell.
* Store your pavlova, undressed, in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.