September 27, 2010

On a side note......

For the past week I've been sick! I'm a terrible sick person, every 2 minutes I must announce in my most annoying croaky voice...."I'm sick". Poor Daz has to put up with it and I have to admit that after about 2 hours, I annoy even myself. For the past 3 years I've been the picture of health, I had a run in with some glass in my foot (which you might hear about in my next post) and a small case of sinusitis, but other than that not even a sniffle of a snuffy nose......until my cute and adorable 18 month old niece came along. She sneezed on me and it was all over. Kids are cute until they share their kiddie germs with you, and who says they have sharing issues!!

This is one of those rare occasion when a post appearing on this site will have nothing to do with food. There are plenty of things that we do in life, most have something to do with food, love or money. And this particular thing covers point one and two.......somethings are better than money. I talk about Daz alot in my posts, mostly about him eating something or other....or even an embarrassing story about him waiting in line overnight to purchase an ipad. So he's taking a fair whack of torture from me, and now its time for me to repay it.

Some of you may know that my Dazzie is a techno-gadget-geek of the highest comes in handy believe me. A while ago he started his own blog about developing applications for the Android operating system for smart-phones, called The Andriod Workshop. He recently came across a new Google App inventor that allows the has-no-idea-about-technology-and-what-does-this-button-do average Joe to create their own applications, a bit like drag and drop programming. And guess who's going to be the guinea pig....ME!!!!

I have to come up with my own idea, then I have to go through the long and intellectually challenging training process and hopefully create my own app and become the most glorious smart-phone application creator of all time!!! Think angry birds crossed with that aeroplane traffic controller thingy. Yes....I'm completely up to speed with things. To be honest I envisage tears, screaming, lots of stress and possibly even a stomach ulcer......and those all coming from Daz.

If you want to know more about the "experiment" head on over to Daz's blog. In the mean time, I'm hungry....I might make a toasted cheese sandwich.....I'll start training later.

September 19, 2010

Leek and Cheese Scrolls

leek and cheese scrolls

This is how naive I am, a little while ago I bought a savory cheese scroll, I was hungry and in desperate need of carbs. I chomped into my scroll and was surprised by how much vegemite was in it. It seemed a little offensive to me, how come they upped the amount of vegemite in savory scrolls and why wasn't I consulted? While I was feeling sorry for my self and dreading the soon to hit heart burn (vegemite gives me heart would think that I would just stop eating it huh?), I contemplated creating a whole new savory scroll, one that would delight and be full of cheese. So hence the birth of the leek and cheese scroll.

leek and cheese scrolls3

There are two ways to make Daz happy, give him any type of gadget or cook him anything with leek in it. In fact that is how I've gotten him to start enjoying broccoli by making a leek and broccoli soup, I thought I would never see the day when he was actually ask me to cook something with broccoli in it. And now every time we go shopping we must come home with leeks. I have an issue with paying more than $2 for a leek, but I've seen him pile in $3.50 leeks into our shopping trolley. One day we'll be poor because we've spent all our money on leeks! You've hear of the credit crunch, we'll be in the leek deficit!

leek and cheese scrolls4

So when I told him my idea for these scrolls he got pretty excited, and insisted that I make them straight away so I did. My recipe makes roughly 18 small scrolls. They were so tasty, I struggled to keep Daz away long enough for me to take the photos! By the end of the day there were 2 lonely scrolls left, and then came the all too familiar over eating guilt.

leek and cheese scrolls5

These scrolls are pretty easy to make, in fact I don't think I'll buy another scroll again. The flavors are endless and you can have them hot and fresh from your oven. What more could you ask for?, other than if someone else could make them for you.

Leek and Cheese Scrolls
Make 18 small scrolls


1 large leek
2 cups of plain flour
7 grams of dry yeast
40 mL milk, warm to blood temperature
100 grams of grated cheese, eg. tasty, Parmesan, Gruyère
pinch of sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten


1. In a small bowl add the dry yeast and half a cup of warm water, roughly at blood temperature. Add a pinch of sugar and allow the yeast mixture to become frothy. The sugar helps to kick start the yeast. In a large bowl add the flour and make a small well in the middle. Add the milk and then the yeast mixture. using your hands start to work the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, once a little of the flour has been incorporated into the yeast mixture you can now add the salt. Adding the salt directly to your yeast mixture will kill the live mixture preventing the dough from rising. Continue to mix all the ingredients together, adding more warm water when needed, until you have a dough, similar to a pizza dough consistency. Cover the bowl with glad wrap and place in a warm place to prove, the dough will become roughly double in original size, this will take around 45minutes.

2. Slice the leek thinly. Sautee in a medium size pan with a knob of butter. Do not allow it to caramelise, you only want the leek to be soft. This will take 3-5 minutes.

3. Once the dough is ready, flour a clean working surface and roll the dough to roughly 3-4 mm in thickness. Sprinkle the leek and cheese over the entire surface of the dough. Then gently roll the dough into a long sausage. Taking a sharp knife cut the dough into 1-2 cm pieces, then transfer to a baking lined tray, making sure to leave a little space between each scroll as they will continue to grow.

leek and dough prep

dough rolled into scrolls

dough rolled into scrolls after second proving
after second proving

4. Cover the scrolls with baking paper and place them in a warm place, this is the second proving. Allow them to roughly double in size again, this will take about 45 minutes. In the meantime preheat the over to 180C.

5. Once they are ready brush them with the beaten egg wash, and place in the oven. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until golden ontop.

leek and cheese scrolls2

September 8, 2010

Beer Doughnuts

beer doughnuts

Donuts or doughnuts? Who cares!! These ones have beer in them!! As a treat recently Daz and I trekked out to Healesville to visit the White Rabbit Brewery. There are two things that I really like about White rabbit beer. Firstly the White ale is one of my favs, very subtle, low on the bitterness and sweetend with honey....isnt everything better sweetened with honey? Secondly they have a very cute white rabbit on the logo, I base my drinking habbits on very important aspects.

white rabbit white ale

white rabbit
These are some rabbits that I dont mind running over with my car.

After purchasing way too much beer for two people to consume, I contemplated using the beer to prepare a recipe. But what recipe? Beer Chicken....too cliché, beer battered fish....I’ll let the fish swim for another day. Then I channelled Homer Simpson and realised that Beer Doughnuts were the only way to go. As soon as I mentioned the idea to Daz, his eyes lit up...... “beer and doughnuts? But its not my birthday”. I did a quick Google search (where were we before the “don’t be evil” Google?) and came across this recipe.

white rabbit2
Oh look, they've multiplied!!

white rabbit3
Quick cross the road now while I distract this drive with my bare leg

What really appealed to me about this recipe is that the doughnuts are actually baked rather than deep fried, so in fact they are a healthier choice when doughnuts are concerned. So of course I made a couple of changes to the recipe, I can’t help it, I must always tinker with things. Once I made the batter it quickly became fluffy. I’ve never smelt the combination of nutmeg and beer before, and oddly I found it very appetizing, it instantly made me hungry! I half filled my pan and shove it in the oven. I followed the recipe and took them out before they began to colour.

beer doughnuts2

They tasted pretty darn good, a tiny hint of yeasty beer and loads of nutmeg. They were really fluffy, with massive air pockets in the dough, in fact they were more cake like rather than doughnutty. I thought they really lacked the deep golden outer crust and I’m sad to admit I missed the greasy after taste you get from eating a regular doughnut.

beer doughnuts inside

I had some batter left over, so I made the decision to throw away my initial intentions to make a healthier doughnut and committed to deep frying the rest of the batter, I’ve always been the fickle type. First doughnut, disaster!! The batter was way too runny, it managed to turn into a fat pancake sucking up loads of the oil! Solution....I added a whole heap of flour to the rest of the batter. Heck, I didn’t have enough to make another oven baked doughnut so I might as well be a big kid and play with goop. Surprisingly, they turned out really well. They fluffed up exactly the same way as the oven baked doughnuts - resulting in crater sized air pockets. However, they still managed to soak up a lot of the oil. I would much prefer the oven baked version. Next time I’ll just let them cook for a lot longer and actually become golden brown. Screw you recipe, I will not listen to you!!

fried beer doughnuts

Beer Doughnuts (My tinkered version)
Prep time : 30 minutes
Makes 9 Doughnuts


1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh ground is best)
1/4 teaspoon salt
60 mL buttermilk (at room temperature)
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
90 mL amber ale
4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled


1. Preheat oven to 170C. Grease a doughnut pan with a generous amount of butter.

2. Melt butter and let cool. Sift all dry ingredients together into large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter and beer until well-blended. Pour the liquid blend into the dry ingredients all at once, and mix just until blended (do not overmix, or the doughnuts will be tough).

doughnut batter

3. Fill each doughnut form half full. Bake in the preheated oven in the middle rack for 9-12 minutes. The doughnuts should not be browned on top. Remove pan from oven, let cool for a minute, remove from pan and roll in castor sugar.

doughnut batter in doughnut pan

September 3, 2010

Royal Mail Hotel

Dining Date: June 2010
Rating: 10th, 2 Stars
Chef: Dan Hunter
Location: 98 Parker Street, (Glenelg Hwy), Dunkeld Victoria 03 5577 2241

royal mail2

Recently, both the Gourmet Traveller Awards and The Age Good Food Guide have been announced. I always find it intriguing that two reputed guides can have such different views on the same restaurants, proving that taste is truly objective. The Gourmet Traveller awards has put Cutler and Co at the top of their list, whereas the Good Food Guide had The Royal Mail hotel as their winner. I’ve now eaten at both establishments, and if you were to ask me my opinion, I would put the Royal Mail ahead of Cutler and Co.

royal mail sign

The transformation of the Royal Mail Hotel

Daz and I celebrated out 7th anniversary not long ago, and as a treat we went away for a short trip to the Grampians. We had very little planned for our time away, mainly eating, bush walking and sitting in front of the open fire. The bush walking was good to counteract all the eating, and the open fireplace was a great way to warm up after some scary bushwalking. Lets just say that I’m scared of heights and I suffer from vertigo, we managed to test both of those elements in one walk. Anyone for tight tracks along cliff faces that go directly up?


Yes, we actually walked across that and yes there is a cliff face directly to the right. I'm glad I wore extra absorbent underwear that day.

I have wanted to go to the Royal Mail Hotel for some time now. I constantly hear of the exciting new dishes that Dan Hunter has been producing and all I wanted to do was sample them for myself. The Hotel is split into two parts, a fine dining section and a bistro. Since it was a special occasion, we went for the fine dining option...why else would you come all the way to Dunkeld if not to get your socks blown off.

All of the ingredients for our meal are locally sourced, some as close as their very own kitchen garden. Our ten course tasting menu started with Sardine on toast, Pork sandwich, Heirloom tomatoes. First of all...great presentation! And even a bonus point scored.....I’m a lazy person so presenting me an already forked tomato is just perfect. From plate to mouth in one swift move. The sardines on toast were crunchy, with a soft jelly on top. I love the addition of the baby radishes. The heirloom tomatoes was jammed packed with flavour and you cant go wrong with tomatoes and basil as a combination. Next was the pork sandwich. Soft juicy pieces of pork which had been slow cooked in between slices of toasted buttery brioche. I wish I could have a regular size portion of this with some seriously crunchy chips. YUM!

royal mail pork sandwich

Next was the Pacific oysters, snow pea, grapefruit, marine essence. This was an intriguing dish. Before the dish arrived Daz and I were discussing exactly what marine essence is. I thought it might be a fancy fish stock. Once the dish arrived, my curiosity was too overwhelming so I asked exactly what it was. Turns out it was the liquor from the muscles, which gave a intense marine flavour....exactly like drinking sea water. In fact the entire dish was designed to resemble the sea with mashed seaweed and crunchy snow pea to mimic the sea vegetation. It was just a joy to eat, once it arrived at the table to aroma of the sea was unmistakable, and then the soft perfectly cooked muscles made my taste buds rejoice with glee.

royal mail mussels

Egg yolk, toasted rye, legumes, yeast. Oh my god. This was the best dish I have ever eaten in my entire life! Every element on that plate was just perfection. The egg yolk had been slightly warmed, so when you burst the outer skin the crunchy bed beneath was flooded with a sliky sticky yolk sauce. It was the best. I cant tell you what any of the individual elements were, this dish was just so completely out there for me. That might be why I loved it so much. I would love to recreate it one day, but I’ll definitely need a recipe.

royalmail yeast and egg

And then there was Wild mushrooms, calamari, hints of autumn. So visually appealing and still so delicious once you ate it. The mushrooms were paper thin, so once you put it in your mouth you got all the earthy mushroom flavour with very little of the meaty mushroom texture. The calamari had be grilled or blow torched so there was a smoky element, leaving the calamari perfectly cooked. Not even a hint of rubbery-ness here. It was all sitting on a celeriac or parsnip puree which gave a sweet element.

royal mail calamari and mushrooms

Coral trout, brassicas, chicken broth and skin. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? What the hell is a brassicas?? The wait staff at the Royal Mail are so well versed that they answer the question before its been uttered. Brassica is the the genus of plants which broccoli and cabbages belong to. This was another stand out dish. The chicken broth was thick, so it covered your palate with richness. The trout was once again perfectly cooked. But who in their right mind would add chicken skin as a garnish? Dan Hunter is who. It was seriously good, crispy salty and just downright bad for you. I contemplated hitting Daz over the head with my plate just so I could steal his chicken skin....little did I know he was contemplating the exact same move. We called a truce and put our knives down before someone got hurt.

royalmail coral trout

Eel, beef tendon, kohl rabi, potato. There are a few things that make Daz uncomfortable, goats cheese, bone marrow, tendon, offal of any sort and spiders. Before this dish came out I watched as he squirmed and became increasingly agitated. Up until this point everything had been perfect and he didn’t want to miss out on a possible great dish just because he didn’t appreciated one element. When the dish arrived, he practically closed his eyes and just ate. I think that experience might have changed him. The tendon had been slowly cooked leaving it very gelatinous. In the end it didn’t add much flavour but a bucket load of texture. The eel was smoky sitting in an almost BBQ like sauce, the potatoes were really cute to...tiny poato balls. hehehe

royal mail beef tendon

Next there was Lamb, eggplant in white miso, pine nut, chlorophyll. This was an interesting dish. I totally respect the fact that the kitchen has gone to the effort of producing chlorophyll, essentially a thick spinach paste, but in the end I would have much preferred some un-adulterer spinach. The eggplant was spectacular, it had been coated in the white miso paste and then char grilled, it was the definition of yum. The lamb was un-faultable, perfectly cooked.

royal mail lamb

Rhubarb, licorice, almond, citrus. This dish made me rethink the way I have eaten rhubarb my entire life. Ordinarily I’ve eaten rhubarb as a soft stewed/bake sweet. But in this case it was still crunchy! So shocking to me. I actually thought it was a mistake, because on Daz’s dish half of his rhubarb was soft, after asking the waiter we were informed that it was supposed to be crunchy. The rhubarb is steamed in its own juices giving it its intense red colour. There were great chunks of lemon rind throughout the dish giving it an intense citrus flavour. The almonds were fresh, reminding me of my childhood when we used to eat almonds straight off the tree. But the best thing was the licorice sauce which tied the whole dish together. A perfect way to start the dessert section of our meal.

royal mail rhubarb and licorice

Fresh and dried berries, beetroot, black olive, rose. When strawberries taste like fairy floss life is being kind to you. This was awesome. The were so many things happening on this plate. On one corner you have dehydrated berries, dehydrated rose petals scattered all over the place, adding floral sweetness and then fresh strawberries covered in a berry thick gel. Not to mention the black olive and rhubarb dust. Just fantastic.

royal mail berries and sorbet

Last, yes we actually made it to the end, we had Pistachio, hazelnut, honeycomb, chocolate. Pistachio cake that tasted like fudge, chocolate and hazelnut ice cream that tasted like nutella and then honey comb scatted all over the place. This dish was a textural dream, creamy richness and crunch.

royal mail pistachio chocolate and hazelnut

All I had to say at the end of the meal was, can I have the whole thing all over again? Their website states that “Dining at the Royal Mail Restaurant requires time; time to experience a range of ingredients, temperatures and textures; to leave behind preconceived ideas; to experience a gastronomic journey highlighting the perfection of each ingredient.” Even with all the words in the world available to me, I simply could not put it better. It was an experience, one that I will never forget and most likely hold as my measuring stick for all great meals to come.