Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Easter Dinner Part 2 - Veal Piccata without Veal but with Chicken

Do you have a grocery shopping routine? You have a great recipe you would like to cook that day and the only thing you need to do is get the ingredients. So when you are at the shop, the first thing you do is have a look at the main ingredients, for example the meat. If they don't have that specific ingredient, the ingredient which is essential in your dish, then you go for option 2. Your backup recipe. 

Well, MrBehomeforT (bless him) got all the ingredients for this beautiful Veal Piccata from Emeril Lagasse (on the food network website), and then he had a look whether the supermarket had some veal left. They didn't. Nor did the butcher. Righto, well, I guess we will have to use something else then. Chicken Marylands? We'll give that a go.

The truth is that you cannot simply replace a main ingredient in a recipe and not change the recipe based on the type of meat used. In the Veal recipe, the veal is briefly cooked and then added back to the sauce later on. Veal doesn't take a long time to cook at all. Chicken does. Nobody wants raw chicken. 

Therefore, you need to adapt your cooking time and you may have to add ingredients later or earlier. This recipe uses fresh lemon and capers. Both are ingredients with a very strong flavour. The longer you cook them, and the more the sauce reduces, the stronger the flavour is.

In this recipe, if you use chicken marylands like I did, make sure that you do not add the lemon and capers too early on (I have taken this into account in the recipe below). However, if you use veal, like the original recipe does, it is better to follow the recipe on the website of the food network

1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 chicken marylands
some vegetable oil
half a pack of butter (you can use less if you want)
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lemon, in slices
2 tablespoons capers, drained
a handful chopped pasley, or more to taste

The recipe
Combine the flour, the salt and pepper and combine. Toss the chicken into the mixture. Heat some oil in a medium to large skillet until very hot and fry the chicken. Add some of the butter so the chicken will get nice and brown on the outside. Also add the garlic

Remove the chicken from the skillet and add the wine. Cook for a few minutes until the wine has reduced a bit, and then add the stock. Put the chicken back in. The original recipe tells you to add the capers and the lemon now. Don't do this. You will need to cook the chicken for at least 10 to 15 minutes before adding other ingredients. You may need extra stock. You don't want the liquid to disappear. Let the chicken simmer away for 10 to 15 minutes and then check whether its almost done. You may need to allow some extra time, depending on the size of the chicken.

Once the chicken is almost cooked, quickly remove from the pan and add the lemon slices, some extra butter and the capers to the sauce. Stir. You can also add some parsley. Then put the chicken back in and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the chicken is done. Have a taste. You may want to add some lemon juice or extra capers, depending on the flavour. The lemon and caper flavour should not be too strong.

Serve the chicken with a generous amount of the sauce and some fresh parsley. We ate it with bread to soak up the lemon butter sauce. Yum!


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Saturday, 26 April 2014

Kuki Tanuki, Erskineville

Good morning! Well, good afternoon actually. It's almost midday and I am writing this to you from my bed, in my PJ's. It's raining outside and MrBehomeforT just got called into work (poor bugger). I made some pineapple, orange and peach juice with the juicer and had an egg on toast. I'm listening to the 'coffee table jazz' playlist on spotify. And now I'm back in bed. So good! I love Sundays!

My plan for today was to finish the rest of the huge Italy Lonely Planet, to plan where we are going (a little more than 2 weeks, I am so excited!!). But before I do that, I want to give you guys (there are not that many of you yet, right? I guess everyone has a blog nowadays and it's difficult to get a public when you have just started) a review of this cute little Japanese bar in Erskineville we went to yesterday. It's called Kuki Tanuki.

I have to apologise in advance for the quality of the pictures. I seem to be the last person on earth with an iphone4. Yep. An Iphone4. So when it's dark inside the pictures are not very clear. Even afterlight cannot save the pictures in such a situation. Ah well.. Next time better. 

I have never been to Japan before but I would love to go there. One of the main reasons is the food. Who doesn't love sushi? It's one of those foods that you have learn to eat. MrBehomeforT wasn't a fan but this is slowly changing. I'm pretty much forcing him to try some sushi every time we go for dinner at a Japanese restaurant. 

You remember the first time you had sushi? It was such a foreign concept to me that I could not stand it. I thought it was gross. I was 21 and I was studying at Sydney Uni as an exchange student. This was in 2005. I think at that time there were not many sushi places in Holland. At least not any that I knew of. I remember that the texture of the raw fish bothered me. And this big piece of ginger on my sushi. Didn't have ginger before either. Don't get me wrong, we eat more than just bread in Holland, but at the time I left the Netherlands there were not a lot of 'exotic' (for Dutch understandings) places like Thai, Indian and Japanese.

The second time I tried sushi I still did not like it. The food is so interesting though. It looks so pretty. So I gave it another chance and by that time I didn't mind it anymore. I now love sushi! I'm trying to put MrBehomeforT through the same process and I believe yesterday it was the fourth time I was forcing him to eat sushi, and I think he didn't mind it. He was even OK with me ordering some more, and he had more than one piece! Perhaps it was the sushi at Kuki Tanuki or the fact that he is getting used to it, but he is eating it!

So, Kuki Tanuki. We walked past the place when we went to the Hive Bar on Anzac Day. It's a small Japanese 'tapas' and sake bar. I cannot believe I did not try some sake yesterday. Will have to go back! 

The guy who was serving us was super friendly and the food came out so quick! We finished our dinner within an hour. Perhaps it's the type of food that doesn't take very long to come out or maybe we liked it that much that we ate like it was a competition. 

I ordered a nice Japanese cider which I had before, Kirin cider with Fuji Apple and Ume, which is a Japanese prune. It wasn't too sweet and easy to drink. I really liked that cider. MrBehomeforT tried a Japanese beer (Yebisu), which was light and easy to drink. I'm not much of a beer drinker anymore but I could have ordered a glass of this myself.

Salt and Pepper Squid ($8.50)
We ordered the Salt and Pepper Squid which was fresh and tasted lovely. It was quite a generous plate as well. Heaps of lettuce on top and served with a garlic mayo, which was delicious

Pork Gyoza (6 for $8.50)
I never had these before. I thought they would be similar to Chinese dumplings, which was not the case. These gyoza were panfried and a bit crispy on the outside. They had a lovely pork and cabbage filling and were served with a citrus ponzu sauce, which looked a bit like soy sauce, but was a lot sweeter. So easy to eat. I could have eaten another portion.

Tasmanian Roll- Aburi Style ($16)
This type of sushi has flame grilled salmon on top and avocado, cucumber and mayo inside. It was served with crispy bits and a soy reduction. OMG! This was delicious. The waiter said "you will like this one". Well, he was right. How good were these crispy bits! Sushi itself often has a soft texture but the crispiness of these bits gave an extra dimension to it. MrBehomeforT even said he would order the same plate again! This was my favourite of the night. If you go to Kuki Tanuki you will have to try this roll!

Spicy Spider Inside Out Roll ($14)
This roll had soft shell crab, cucumber, and was supposed to come with spicy miso. I asked whether the kitchen could make us a version of this roll without the spicy miso. Not a problem. Done. The soft shell crab was crunchy and the spicy miso was replaced with a different type of mayo. Perfect! This roll was nice but the Tasmanian roll was better.

Chicken Nanban Bites ($18)
Crispy deepfried chicken with a sweet and sour nanban sauce. These were delicious. I am not a fan of deepfried food (unless it's Dutch 'snackbar' food). The only time I went to KFC I felt so sick afterwards. The food was horrible. This deepfried chicken though was delicious, and so easy to eat! The sauce gave an extra dimension to it. We both loved this dish. 

After all this food we were stuffed! I wish I could have tried more! The Wagyu Roast Beef Tataki was on our list and I would have loved to try the green tea ice cream, but we honestly could not eat a single bit after all this delicious food.

I loved the atmosphere, the service and the food at Kuki Tanuki and we will definitely be back!

Kuki Tanuki - Japanese Sake Bar on Urbanspoon


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Friday, 25 April 2014

Hive Bar, Erskineville

We have been living in Newtown for a while now and have been to most places on King Street. I wanted to try something new. Something different.

I haven't been in Erskineville before but it looks a bit like a tiny village. There are a few little shops and bars, and a few pubs. It's pretty quiet and it's hard to imagine that busy King Street is just around the corner.

The Hive Bar is a cute little bar. One of those places with personality. Enough to become your local. They have a pretty impressive wine list and the menu is not huge but it has something for everyone. There is an art exhibition space upstairs and you can also hire a private area for a party. 

The bar has a relaxed atmosphere. There are a few books so you can sit down on one of the lounges and relax with a nice glass of wine. There are also some board games to borrow.

I had a lovely ploughman's lunch and a nice Sav Blanc. MrBehomeforT selected a pizza. The ploughman's lunch was served with toasted brasserie bread, some free range ham, old cheddar, apple slices, pickled zucchini and some pickled onions. It was delicious! I love little nibbles and bits and pieces. They have a few sharing plates and I'd be happy to try another one the next time we go here. You won't break the bank when you go here. Good value for money! This place is awesome and we will definitely be back.

The Hive Bar on Urbanspoon


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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Geneva and Grindelwald, Switzerland, February 2013

Now I know that this was meant to be a blog about food. However, I happen to travel now and then, and what is better than trying different dishes in different countries? But it would be a pity to only write about the food and not about the country and city I tried it, right?

Travelling is absolutely amazing and I hope to get to travel a lot more in my life. Actually, in about three weeks I will be flying back home for my friend's wedding in Rotterdam and after that I will be roadtripping around Italy. I am so looking forward to that! To see the Italian countryside, but also to taste some of the best and most amazing regional food and wines. And not to forget to finally eat some Dutch food again. Kroketten, Bitterballen, Frikandel Speciaal and chips with loads of mayo. Cannot wait!!

In the meantime, I though I'd share some of my past travel stories, the first of which is about Switzerland, which we visited in February 2013.

I had never been to Switzerland before but I was particularly keen to try some amazing cheese fondue and traditional rosti! Rosti is a potato dish which we also used to eat back home. Not the homemade version unfortunately, but the version from the freezer. I have tried to make rosti myself (recipe to come), and it turned out OK, but it's not easy to make. First you need to get the right type of potato. You need to peel the potatoes, and grate them. Then you need to drain as much liquid out of them as possible, and once the grated potato is dry enough you can season it and add an egg, some flour, some chives and onion and some other ingredients if you like. I made little cakes and fried them in oil.

The rosti I had in Switzerland however was prepared in a large pan I believe and was delicious. Because it was served with a beautiful mushroom sauce and amazingly tender beef strips, it was too easy to finish the whole plate. I love the hearty, filling dishes they have in Europe. It's something I really miss now I live in Australia. 

I also miss winter. The atmosphere in winter. It's cold and dark outside and when you walk into a nice restaurant or pub with a fireplace and there is a nice table and candles, you immediately warm up. I have been to the Snowy Mountains here in Australia before but it doesn't even come close to European winter. No Christmas lights, no decorations. It seems like some of the wintersport areas in Europe always have some sort of lights and decorations. After 5 years in Australia, I really really long for winter every year. But winter in Australia is not winter. It's not a proper winter. Therefore I prefer to travel to Europe in winter. Not to ski or to snowboard but to eat warm food and enjoy the atmosphere. And sleep under a blanket! 

Geneva is very small compared to Sydney and is more like a village. It's so beautiful! And clean! However, we arrived on a Sunday and unfortunately pretty much everything was closed. The centre has little cobblestone streets and bars serving mulled wine. Geneva has a few large shops, but these were also closed of course. 

A lot of people living in Geneva are expats considering the UN is based there, and it is very expensive to rent an apartment or even to find one. I met up with my friend who I met while I was doing an internship in New York, and she told me Geneva is very expensive! 

The best part about Geneva is the lake. It's beautiful! It was freezing cold when we were there and there was a fair bit of wind which was stabbing cold. At the lake there is a 'baths' area where people can enjoy a sauna and then jump in the ice cold water to cool down. Some people were sitting on the pier in their bathing suits like it was summer. Crazy. It is a very nice walk around the lake and you can easily walk to the town centre. 

We stayed at Hotel Edelweiss which was a beautiful cheese smelling hotel near the Lake. The whole hotel was smelling like cheese because it has this amazing traditional restaurant which is very popular with the locals. We were so lucky to get a spot. A traditional jodel band was playing and customers could even try playing the Alphorn (I had a go and I wasn't very good at it). Some people may find this place a bit tacky but I absolutely loved it! The rooms were decorated traditionally and the location was great.

We had a cheesefondue and a meatfondue. The cheesefondue was served with bread. For the meatfondue you need to cook the meat in hot oil. The meat was served with different types of sauce and some pickles and vegies. It was so good! I was so full after eating it all. But there is always some space for dessert, which was a beautiful apfelstrudel. It was warm, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and just perfect! I could hardly stand up let alone move after eating enough food to last for a week, and rolled myself into my traditional Swiss bed.

Switzerland is not very big and we took the train to get from place to place. In the Swiss Alps we visited Grindelwald, a small village near the Jungfraujoch, the 'top of Europe'. To get to the Jungfraujoch from Grindelwald you get on a cute little mountain train with the most amazing views! Unfortunately it was cloudy and it is so expensive to go all the way to the top! So we decided to go halfway, which was pretty good too. Now I'm not very keen on skiing or snowboarding but I know MrBehomeforT would have loved to snowboard there....

Grindelwald itself is a tiny, cute little village but has everything you need. The hotel we booked was not very nice, although it was supposed to be a five star hotel. Our balcony was right above the bus station... classy. The staff was not very nice either. But the place had a bar, with an amazing DJ. We had a good laugh drinking schnapps with all the drunk locals trying to dance on old 70's and 80's music. 

There are not a lot of other things to do in Grindelwald. There are a few restaurants and some bars, including the 'Avocado Bar' which is run by an Ozzie. If you are not up for having a few beers or some schnapps, you can always go to a local cafe and have a nice mulled wine by the fireplace. Pretty good.

I would definitely go back! 


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Monday, 21 April 2014

Easter. Martha Stewart's Roast Rack of Lamb with Mint and Capers, crispy potatoes and asparagus

Easter back home reminds me of spring, baby chicks, and a "paastak" which is a large twig which we decorate with everything Easter such as little easter eggs and baby chicks. The twig often has flower buds and stands for spring. We also paint Easter eggs and eat Easter bread, which is similar to the Australian Easter Bun, but not as sweet.

Easter in Australia is in Autumn. No "paastak", baby chicks or flower buds, but falling leaves, colder mornings and Easter Buns. It is different, but not in a bad way. 

I have been in Australia for 5 years and I had never tried an Easter Bun until last Wednesday. It was a cold Easter Bun with butter and I had it at work. It was sweet and tasted like cinnamon and sugar. Better than the Dutch paasbrood. Then I had another Easter Bun on Thursday. And two on Friday. And another two on Saturday. From the oven. With butter. I am addicted. They are so good! Why haven't I tried them before?!?!

Although it is autumn in Australia, it is still very warm and sunny and there are flowers everywhere. I love this time of the year! It's not too hot, and not too cold. It's perfect!

In Australia, one traditional Easter dish is lamb. It's not something we often eat back home, and that's too bad. Because Australian lamb is delicious! This version from Martha Stewart has an amazing combination of mint, capers and lemon. The mint makes the dish fresh and the lemon and capers make it tangy and punchy. I added some crispy potatoes and some easy asparagus as side dishes. If you want to cook something delicious and easy then give this lamb a go!


For the lamb
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon of lemon zest
- juice of 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 racks of lamb, frenched
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil

For the caper mint sauce
- 1/2 cup salt packed capers, rinsed
- 2 cups fresh mint
- zest of 2 lemons
- lemon juice from 2 lemons
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the side dishes
- baby potatoes
- bunch of fresh asparagus

The Recipe
Make the lamb by whisking together the garlic, mint, lemon zest, juice, olive oil and the salt and pepper. You can also mix this with a stick blender. Cover the lamb in the mixture and put in the fridge overnight.

The next day, let the lamb stand in room temperature for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius. According to Martha's recipe, you remove the lamb from the marinade and brush it dry. I just threw the whole thing in a hot pan (or skillet). Yes, it splattered a bit, but I thought it would be such a waste to throw that marinade out! 

Brown the lamb for 2 or 3 minutes on each side until browned and put it in the oven in a roasting pan or skillet. Martha's recipe says you need to cook the lamb for 20-30 minutes, until a meat thermometer reads 130 degrees. I think it is important to have a look how thick your lamb is. If it is thin, and the pieces are small, you probably do not need 20-30 minutes. My lamb was done in 10 minutes. It should still be quite red when it comes out because you need to rest it for a while, preferably for 10 minutes or longer.

Making the caper mint sauce is easy. Just throw everything in the food processor and blend. Add lamb to serving platter and spread sauce on top.

For the potatoes, cut each baby potato in two and boil for 5 minutes. The potatoes won't be completely cooked yet, but this is a good thing because otherwise they will fall apart. Heat some oil in a pan, season the potatoes with salt and pepper and perhaps some Italian herbs and fry the potatoes until they are golden all over. Transfer the potatoes to the oven and cook for 20 to 30 minutes on 200 degrees. 

Cooking the asparagus is easy, just heat some oil in a pan and fry them for 3 to 4 minutes. Top with some lemon juice.



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Friday, 18 April 2014

Pork and Apple Sausage Rolls with Caraway Seeds and a Fennel and Orange Salad

I wrote before about how I dislike spending 8 dollars or more on an average takeaway lunch. That's why I always do some 'batch cooking' on Sunday so I can prepare lunches well ahead and keep them in the freezer. When I am in a hurry in the morning, the only thing I need to do is open the freezer, quickly grab my lunch and a muffin or piece of homemade banana bread, grab some fruit and I am ready for the day.

I do not like premade sausage rolls. The ones you buy at the supermarket and then heat up in the oven or even microwave (yuk!). So I made them myself. These sausage rolls are easy to make and because they contain apple, the taste is a bit different. I did not cut them in half but instead made mega sausage rolls. They are pretty big and enough for a big lunch. If you like salad, a fennel and orange salad works well.

Have you ever made homemade sausage rolls before and wonder why they are on the dry side? That's because mince by itself does not have a high enough fat content to keep the meat moist. It depends on the mince of course. Lean mince will not give you a nice moist sausage roll. However, you can choose to mix mince with the meat from some good quality sausages, which is what I have done here. Getting the meat out of the sausages is pretty gross but it will be worth the effort.

This recipe has been adapted from Taste Australia

- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 red onions, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 600 gram good quality Italian Pork Sausages (from the butcher)
- 400 gram pork mince
- 3 teaspoons caraway seeds
- a lot of Italian herbs
- 6 granny smith apples, grated and as much liquid as possible removed
- 4 sheets frozen puff pastry
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- good quality tomato chutney
- 2 oranges, segmented
- 1 baby fennel, sliced
- 1 lemon

The recipe
Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius. Heat oil in non stick frying pan and heat the onion and garlic for approximately 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Use scissors to cut the end from the sausages and squeeze out the meat in a bowl. Mix with the mince and a lot of salt, pepper, italian herbs and the caraway seeds. Add the apple and mix properly.

Use one pastry sheet on your work bench and cut in two. Roll a sausage out of the meat mixture and put it in the middle of the sheet. Do not make it too big as it will not fit in the pastry. Fold both sides inside and close the bottom and top. Brush with eggyolk and place with the seem side down on a baking tray with baking paper. Repeat with remaining sausages. You can also cut the sausages in two. If you prefer smaller sausage rolls.

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden. Serve with a simple salad of fennel, orange segments and some lemon juice. 

I have used this recipe many times to make my work lunches and every time my colleagues tell me how good it smells when I reheat the sausage roll in the microwave. And it is so easy to make! Give it a go!


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