Sunday, January 17, 2010

healthy lunch

Three Ryvita multigrain.
A helping of smoked salmon on each - about 75g in total.
Topped with cottage cheese - again about 75g in total.
Garnished with cherry tomatoes cut into quarters and plenty of black pepper.
This is my current favourite lunch - and at only 4.5 points for the lot, it's a healthy one too.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

tea blossom

I could get used to these!

This one I got from T2 but I believe there is a website called that may become addictive...

Sunday, January 03, 2010

making patties

We set up a pattie-making factory one hot afternoon, Eric, Orlando and I. We had been hankering for a proper West Indian pattie for a while and Eric was the resident expert. We would have liked saltfish patties but the salted cod here takes far too long to prepare - a full weekend for one side of salted cod. So we went with beef instead.

First, Orlando set about cooking the beef filling. He browned a large chopped onion, then added 800g of heart-smart minced beef, four large chillies (two red and two green) finely chopped, a decent dollop of old-fashioned curry powder and some Indian meat masala. When the meat was brown he added four medium potatoes which had been cooked, cooled and diced beforehand.

About a cup of beef stock was added to make the mixture moist, then about the same again of breadcrumbs to make sure the mixture bound enough for us to fill the patties.

Actually, we didn't have breadcrumbs so we used cornflake crumbs instead - which I think worked better.
Meanwhile I coloured the pastry by painting it with turmeric, then rolled out the sheets and cut out large circular shapes using a breakfast bowl. I kept all the offcuts and Orlando insisted he would not waste a bit. He persevered, and from the scraps of five pastry sheets he got an extra size cutouts plus one tiny piece we made into a party pie. Then the factory line began.

Orlando placed a dessertspoonful of the beef mixture onto the pastry round. I wet the edge with water, folded it over and used a fork to seal the edges into a half moon shape.
Then once we had a full tray ready, Orlando brushed the top of with a beaten egg to glaze them. Not too many in a tray - we didn't want to crowd them. Then into the oven at 200C for about half an hour.
The results were splendid: 26 perfectly golden, sturdily made patties with a rich beef filling with just enough bite to them. We ate two each on the spot (just to make sure they were ok).
Now we know how long it takes, and we have had a bit of practice, there is no stopping us. Two hours in the kitchen makes over two dozen patties. Only problem is, they take less time than that to polish them all off...

Denn Restaurant

113 High Street, Northcote

A bon voyage lunch for Karina brought us to Denn restaurant in Northcote, a part of the city Orlando and I rarely frequent. A strip of cafes, bars, boutiques, coffee grinders and funky independent movie rental stores looked like it was worth a longer look on another Saturday afternoon. Bar Nancy, in particular, caught my attention, and will be the subject of another post in the future.

Denn sits next door to its sister bar, Ember (where you get 10% discount on showing your Denn receipt). The place is a little tardis-like, stretching far back to a bright airy extension with a tiny courtyard - a good place for a blast of sheltered sunshine on a wintry day perhaps.

The wine list looked fairly acceptable and reasonably-priced, however the selection of wines by the glass was a little disappointing. In terms of red, there was little more than one choice per grape variety.

The menu is modern Mediterranean, with a slight focus on wood-fired pizza and pasta. A short lunch menu caught the attention of most of our table of nine, with a dozen or so choices all for less than $15.

My choice was the "lunch pizza", the name and $10 price tag suggesting a more modest size than usual, with chorizo, Spanish onion, feta cheese and black olives. The vegetarian pizza was also a popular choice, with goat's cheese, spinach, zucchini and green peas. When served, they were standard sized pizzas, generously topped and cooked to perfection in the wood oven.

The fish and chips looked good but the chips were nothing to write home about. The pasta version of my chorizo pizza looked a little disappointing, with the half-moons of chorizo a little under-cooked for my liking. The Mexican breakfast of eggs, chorizo, avocado and home-baked beans again could have done with bit more cooking on the chorizo, but was a fine brunch choice. Karina's seafood linguine looked divine with plenty of shellfish in evidence including a couple of juicy-looking Moreton Bay bugs.

Service was average: it took a while to get our first and subsequent drinks, and at times we felt as if we were a bit of an irritation, with waiters trying to walk off in the middle of a large drinks order. My English breakfast tea had to be sent back as I'd asked for a weak tea, and what came out was unusually strong: the cafetiere had about three times the normal amount of tea leaves in. When I asked for it to be replaced, the waiter came back with a jog of hot water and I had to explain that the tea was not drinkable at all. She happily replaced my cafetiere, assuring me it was weak this time, but the same amount of tea leaves were used and it was still undrinkable. I gave up.

Nonetheless, Denn was an excellent choice for a leisurely lunch. I would have to be convinced that their service could put up with a busier evening crowd, but it's worth a try at those price. Lunch with plenty of wine and beer for nine people was $229, only $25 a head.