{recipe for…} yoghurt waffles with strawberries

There’s a photo of me as a six year old holding up a plate to the camera, my pale blue Mickey Mouse sweatshirt (horror) obstructed by the enormous plate. My teeth are all gappy but it’s clear nothing will get in the way of me enjoying the crispy creamy-laden waffle I had somehow been allowed to order. It was a 1984 Disneyland treat and a breakfast epiphany, and I’d never seen anything like it in all my life. Piled high with strawberries and cream and I think possibly whipped butter, this inch-thick American-style waffle I’ve never forgotten. Determined to recreate the magic, with a little more sophistication, I bought an electric Breville waffle iron this week. Here you’re witnessing its first production. The first batch missed the crispy exterior I craved, so I added a little more sugar (which it needed anyway) and the whole banana, and the result is the chewy centre and outer crisp I wanted. Serve with dollops of cream or yoghurt (I’ve used the latter here), and then offer maple syrup for drizzling. I went with strawberries, but sliced banana or just plain also work well. I mashed up a few strawberries to make an elderflower and strawberry cordial to drink. {READ MORE}

{recipe} brandy, prune & chocolate brownies

chocolate brownies

Too often chocolate is targeted at children. This dark, chewy, brandy-soaked prune chocolate brownie recipe, however, is not. Soak the prunes in the brandy at least a day ahead, more if you have the time. You can replace the prunes with toasted nuts like hazelnuts or almonds, but the brandy and prunes give it that extra chewy and moist quality that make it satisfying to have just one. We adults need to consider these things. {READ MORE}

Mochi sweets, Tokyo

Mochi sweets, those glutenous rice balls, are traditionally filled with sesame paste, cream or red bean paste. But the wagashi parlour and cafe, Higashiya, has overhauled the culinary tradition, filling the doughy balls with the likes of peach, edamame paste and blueberry. Rolled balls of gelatinous rice  are gem-like sculptured pieces, pretty morsels of silk and goo.

There’s pumpkin and cheese, mashed chestnuts and brandy jelly, ginger, orange and chocolate, sweet potato and black sesame butter, macadamia and sweet potato, rum and fermented butter, cashews in mashed sweet potato.

The powder-coated or polished bites are served with the spirit Shochu instead of the traditional thick green tea. Though eating any any of the stores still feels like some ancient Japanese tea ceremony.

Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg make brownies

An old recording of when Snoop Dog visited the Martha Stewart show, and they both made brownies. In an amusing turn, Snoop does a rap about making brownies, while Martha, hip hop as she is, joins in to the awkward rap.

Snoop: “Trying to make some brownies, but we’re missing the most important part of the brownies.”
Martha: “Which is, which is, which is …”
Snoop: “No sticks no seeds no stems.”
Martha: “You want green brownies.”
Snoop: “Yes.”
Martha: “He wants green brownies. Brownish green brownies.”
Snoop: “The greener the better!”

lamingtons for australia day

You really need to have started these yesterday, so you can have them in all their glory on this momentous day. But I secretly didn’t and they worked out just fine, still soft and the chocolate icing firm enough to hold the coconut in place and avoid too chocolatey fingers. Is there anything more Australia Day than lamingtons? Ok yes there are snags and VB and pies, but for those the smell and idea is everything and the actual eating nothing at all. Really, we’ve come so far. Lamingtons, and maybe pavlova, are sustaining Australia Day stalwarts; happy and easy and a reminder of a time we used to take English things (like baking) and make them our own.

First you need to make a basic butter cake, and then cut the cake into lamington squares, leaving them like this for a day to prevent catastrophic crumbling when you ice them. {READ MORE}

Monkey Magic

If Sydney’s Japanese restaurants’ menus could be lined up in a row, we might be excused for thinking it is a case of the usual suspects. Salmon avocado rolls, crispy fried soft-shell crab rolls, beef teriyaki.. sigh. But a New York style Japanese fusion restaurant, Monkey Magic, is setting a new agenda. Suzuki jewfish with dashi and lemongrass consomme (below), a salted caramel semifreddo with pineapple chip … New head chef Shea Crawford (above, right) has joined the restaurant having worked at New York’s acclaimed Nice Matin and Oceana Restaurant, where he worked under the tutelage of Andy D’Amico.

Now as head chef at Monkey Magic, Shea has collaborated with Tsuboi and head sushi chef Michiaki Miyazaki to create a new menu flush with European influenced Japanese fusion fare. The so-named Crab Leaves is crab meat bedded on a betel leaf with a touch of ginger, chilli and lime, not a bad thing to go with a tall lemongrass julep (above), a gin and lemongrass cocktail. The slow cooked pork belly is braised and served with apple and ginger puree, salad of fennel, chinese cabbage, orange and chives ($27).

The usual suspects are still here, but the soft shell crab roll ($15) comes with flyingfish roe, tomato, mizuna, fried leek and spicy mayonnaise. And then it can be followed by the wonderfully unusual silken tofu cake (above), with white lemon sorbet and tuille ($13) or the sugar cinnamon beignet, which comes with a chai latte and sweet cream ($13).

Monkey Magic: 3&4, 410 Crown St. Surry Hills (02) 93584444

Like pumpkin pie

Photography by Andrew B Myers. Love these “High West” pictures of dramatic landscapes and rugged jaws, perfectly suited to a day testing a pumpkin pie- inspired rice pudding, all very cinnamon spiced and cream laden, like one I had in New York this year. Will keep you posted.

rice pudding macarons by adriano zumbo

Adriano Zumbo, of course. Theses oatmeal and ylang ylang macarons are soft and chewy on the inside, and crispy on the outside, again, of course. But even more amazing were the rice pudding and the coconut and pineapple macarons, the first with that creamy pudding flavour folded into to the not-too-sugary macarons. Pretty clever mister Zumbo.

Pictures by Kate Gibbs, taken using tiltshift.

connolo: little pieces of sicily

A SICILIAN will tell you cannoli has to be filled with sheep’s-milk ricotta and they must be eaten the day they are made.

There may be chocolate-cream filled, custard loaded, coffee creme varieties sold in Australia but a real cannolo, Sicily’s most famous pastry, is something quite different.

In Sicily, crisp-fried pastry shells are filled with a not-too-sweet mixture of dense and creamy sheep’s-milk ricotta – either plain or laden with candied citrus, usually blood orange – a pinch of cinnamon, crushed pistachios, a few drops of orange blossom water and bittersweet chocolate chips.

Cannolo starts as an oval of pastry wrapped around a wooden dowel or metal tube, then deep-fried before being filled. The butter pastry includes cocoa powder, cinnamon and marsala, though digressions from the original recipe bring in things such as amaretto and orange liqueur. {READ MORE}

the midnight feast

The midnight feast. A childhood culinary romantic adventurism fuelled by fairytales and heros and Harry Potter. It’s children who dreamed up the idea of waking and sneaking and hushing and uncovering some extraordinary concoction of food and carbohydrate-laden treats in the middle of the night. And we adults should bring it back.

Ideally the midnight feast should be lit by the moon and a roaring fire, and there should be pyjamas and some clandestine setting. And icing sugar. And heart-shaped lobster sandwiches and white peach pulped and topped with champagne or soda water.

A new book, Midnight Feasts: An anthology of Late Night Munchies, includes recipes from the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Rose Gray (of the River Cafe), and includes suggestions of tinned sardines in bed in the dark, and chorizo cooked in sherry.

The ideas may leave us a bit flat, but the very fact that there is a book, a recipe book, about midnight feasts is something to be rejoiced and cheered on. For me, a caramelised apple stack of pancakes would be perfect. Sure, a pink-iced donut in the middle of the night is not great for your health, but let’s all do it once and then have vegetables for a week to make up for it. Plus salads just don’t work for a midnight feast, they are much too serious.

I leave you with this paragraph taken from Nine Coaches Waiting, in which the governess heroine and her fiance sneak away from an Easter ball to a rendezvous. Together they share a midnight feast, which starts with lemonade and Champagne.

“Thin curls of brown-bread with cool, butter-dripping asparagus; scallop-shells filled with some delicious concoction of creamed crab; crisp pastries bulging with mushroom and chicken and lobster; petits fours bland with almonds, small glasses misty with frost and full of some creamy stuff tangy with strawberries and wine; peaches furry and glowing in a nest of glossy leaves; grapes frosted with sugar that sparkled in the firelight like a crust of diamonds … ”

pic from www.mrslilien.com

Arras, Walsh Bay

Don’t be fooled when you hear chef Adam Humphrey’s thick Yorkshire accent. He may sound like he knows only stews and pork pies, but the man is a genius.

Humphrey says Yorkshire pudding is too easy, so doesn’t bother putting it on his English-inspired menu at Arras. His creative menu includes fish and chips and mushy peas and rice pudding, but not like we’ve ever seen it. With partner Lovaine Allen (who earned her front-of-house stripes at France’s three-star Michel Bras in Laguiole and The Fat Duck in Berkshire before turning to pastry), Humphrey prefers to keep the English touches subtle. The menu errs on the french, but with Australian ingredients, French creativity, and a wonderful English sense of humour.

Dishes like ‘breakfast risotto’, an amuse bouche, are a nod to the full English breakfast, with a quail yolk, which has been cooked sous vide so is runny as it should be, homemade brown sauce and crispy paper-thin bacon included.

An entree, ‘the raw and the cooked’, is a glass plated pallet involving 40 different types of vegetables done in different ways. Pureed and pickled vegetables sit with micro herbs and tiny violet flowers, transparent thinly-sliced beetroot and radishes, curls of raw cucumber and in-season baby peas. (More on the food at Arras in an upcoming post…. )

And there is nothing stodgy about the location. Just a few doors down from Sydney Theatre, in the uber cool Walsh Bay (where Fratelli Fresh has just opened, and where Cate Blanchette spends a lot of time at work), Arras is warehouse-tastic, and the interior design of the restaurant reflects that industrial edge and history.

For dessert, the fun has really exploded in a sugar-coated crack of glorious colours, textures and light-as-air pots and creams. A popcorn souffle with its own little side bag of popcorn, and a funpark-inspired pink plate including rice pudding and whipped pink jelly, twirls of fluorescents, rhubarb slides and tiny cubes of jelly. There’s a Coulant au Chocolat, by Michel Bras (bottom left), a hot melty pudding with an outer cakey exterior and a separate runny middle sitting within (this is not your not-quite-done chocolate fondant). There is even a tube of chantilly cream served in the ‘adolescent breakfast’ that you can squirt on to your chocolate as if it will do your teeth some good after all that sugar.

Oh yes, and the petit four. There’s rum and raisin chocolate and little toffee lollypops and coconut ice. Humphrey makes eating out so much fun.

{photos by Kate Gibbs}

Restaurant Arras
24 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay NSW ; (02) 9252 6285