Friday, May 28, 2010

The Better Roll?

Vietnamese Spring Rolls
...and the debate continues. I have noticed many converts amongst my foodie friends and dining partners, that is to say that the Vietnamese version of the springy with its extra lettuce and fresh herb 'twist' has become a popular alternative to the more widely accepted Chinese version. Perhaps it is its pretence of being a healthier option or maybe it is as I feel offering more balance! 

But where does the fresh rice paper roll fit into the argument??

Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls
I decided it was time to ask some 'experts' and sort counsel from a group of spring roll regulars. A quick vote didn't answer the question but with further discussion we did discern that tradition, global availability, health and balance of flavours and textures were all decision making factors.

Any suggestions on where to get a great Chinese version in Melbourne? For Vietnamese there's always:
Tien Dat 3 Carrington Road, Box Hill
Thanh Hga nine 160 Victoria St Richmond

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Flavour & Texure

I just love duck! But tonight as I tucked into a few old favourites I was conscious that it was not only the rich succulent duck meat with its crispy skin that was the main attraction but rather the heady mix of duck and aromatic Chinese five spice (cassia, clove, fennel seed, star anise, and Szechuan pepper) that was demanding my attention. Chinese five spice is such a defining flavour of Cantonese cuisine and this dish in particular is testament to valuing and honoring the classics.

Equally with another of our regular choices - bean curd stuffed with prawns. The coveted prawn not the feature in this dish but rather the luscious texture of the bean curd with its capacity to absorb all the complexity of the sauces, fillings and accompaniments.

Fabulous flavours and textures combine, such is the splendour of cooking and eating!

Pacific Seafood BBQ House, 8/240 Victoria Street Richmond - Make sure you take your umbrella on a rainy day/night as you might have to wait on the street to get a table - or go early! 
Pacific Seafood BBQ House on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 14, 2010

Roly Poly before and after!

Rhubarb (or apple for the 'rhubarb resister') Roly Poly is a little treat at home as the weather cools.  Comfort food in the classical English pudding tradition. Although I must say this family favourite has surfaced on a menu or two over the years, albeit with a few embellishments.To be served with lavishing's of cream for sure.
A simple scone dough of:
  • 1 ½ cups SR flour
  • 1 tbl butter
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • Milk to mix
Rolled to a rectangle approx, ¾ cm thick. Covered in sliced rhubarb ( or apple or apple & rhubarb) and generously sprinkled with sugar (especially the rhubarb version). Rolled length ways, then cut into 6cm slices. Place in a baking dish. Combine the following ingredients:
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 cup boiling water
Cover the pudding with the sugar, butter, water mix and bake in moderate oven (approx. 175 C) for roughly an hour.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Art in the gallery and at the cafe

A trip to Heidi Museum of Modern Art provides food for the creative soul. Simple yet flavoursome and artistically presented dishes are to be found at Cafe Vue at Heidi - the food reflects the surroundings. Lunch times seem to be getting the best reviews (heard a few negative breakfast bleats! - mainly the service it seems). Although it's usually busy so advisable to book. The potato mash is fabulous. Whilst there its delightful to take advantage of  the short but often sunny days of May in Melbourne to wander through the gallery's or the surrounding gardens.
The current exhibition titled 'Sundays Kitchen' provides glimpses into the life of Sunday Reed who together with her husband John Reed where two of Australia's most significant art benefactors. Sunday, a passionate cook and gardener became well known for her communal tables harvesting food from the substantial kitchen garden and orchard and preparing fresh dairy products thus ensuring the artists she championed received sustenance for the body, not just the mind. Famous artists who spend time on their property included Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester and Charles Blackman. A weekly column in the Age Epicure is currently featuring recipes from the recent published book 'Sundays Kitchen'.

Heidi Museum of Modern Art, 7 Templestowe Rd Bulleen, 3105

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Autumn = earthy mushrooms.

Mushrooms simply sauteed in butter and garlic are wonderful with a brunch fry up or tossed through fresh pasta. Equally simple is baked whole field mushrooms drizzled with olive oil & crumbled feta (even better some Meredith's marinated goats feta). Growing up in the dairy farming heart of South Gippsland ensured that 'mushrooming' expeditions to neighboring paddocks during April and May was a regular occurrence. Although stewed mushrooms thickened with white sauce day after day is not one of my best childhood food memories.

Even better if you have the opportunity head off with an expert into the damp Victorian undergrowth to forage for wild mushrooms. Not a good idea to try this on your own - too many deadly ones masquerading as something luscious!

Autumn is also the time to start cooking up the warming soups again. The pictured broth is a heady combination of Swiss browns & dried Italian porcini's slowly cooked with vegetables, stock, ham hocks and barley. You can find the recipe for this delicious soup in the April addition of Australian Gourmet Traveller in the Autumn mushroom feature. Happy cooking!