Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I made the most of being a lady of leisure today and lunched with my cousin V. Lunch turned into dessert and coffee, which lead us to home ware shopping on Devonshire St in Surry Hills. But I bore you with the details.

La Maison outlet on Devonshire St, Surry Hills. This mantra reminded me of how good Guinness is for blood deficiency (in oriental medicine terms).

All you need to know is Porcorosso opened up in my hood about three weeks ago. About time a decent pizza joint opened up close by, thank you food gods!! The authentic Italian eye candy running the joint makes matters even better. Damiano, one of the owners, tells me there's five of them that partnered up - mama mia!

Porcorosso only open for breakfast and lunch at this stage, but will probably start opening for dinner in the coming weeks. Might be worth giving them a call before making the trek. The pizza and perv are worth it. It's OK, I can say that. My husband and I have an understanding: we have eyes and we use them.

Prices are decent at approx. $20 for a pizza and $16-19 for handmade pasta.

YUM YUM YUMMETY YUM Pizza Due with tomato, smoked ham, mozzarella, wild mushrooms, artichokes and olives.

Get it in ya! Shweet thin base ala authentic Italiano style.
 Salads are limited but there's a great selection starting from $9 for the rocket.
Rocket with shaved parmigiano salad @ 9 smackaroonies. Oversized so good value for your dosh. Remember: you don't make friends with salad, so order more!
The space is cool, warehouse style with large sacks of flour and polenta on display to give it that authentic Italian edge, or whatever you want to call it.

The sacks are on the right hand side...imagine them. I promise they're there, trust me. I just liked the stripey chairs more.

Oh yeah and the name? It means Crimson Pig. I wonder if it was named after the Japanese anime film. This would describe the appearance of random Japanese ingredients like edamame on the menu. So strange it's cool.

Shop 4-5, 25/33 Allen Street, WATERLOO
Telefono N. 02 9698 2983

Love the oversize communal high table for a casual lunch or to suck down coffee whilst flicking through mags.

 I'm going tomorrow to try their coffee and perv some more. Giddy up.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Old Faithful - MECCA

One thing I miss about working in the city is the random cafes dotted around the place, waiting to be discovered. A lot don’t necessarily look good, but they dish out serious coffee and/or food. That’s what I love about the competition – makes them work harder. Well, some of them anyway.

Simplicity is king. Do something and do it well. MECCA falls into this category. Their staff retention is crazy too – they must get paid in gold, because the four years I’ve been going there, it’s been the same boys pumping out Sydney’s caffeine fix and smacking down the buttons on the register. These boys know their art and that’s the reason I keep going back. For the holiest of hollies: consistency and quality. Booyah. Great people watching spot too. 

Sit down, relax and watch the world go by. You should go. Do it.

MECCA Espresso
67 King Street, Sydney
(underneath the Grace Hotel), almost corner King and York Streets.

Thin and flat sourdough, exactly how I like it. No lock jaw action here!
Line ups are very common but they move quickly

Ultra creamy froth on my latte, silky goodness.
Mecca Espresso on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Prawns Saganaki

I cleaned our oven today - what a workout. With my daddy long legs in the way, I couldn't see if I was doing a decent job of cleaning the back corners and had to bend into weird shapes that my yoga repertoire does not include. Seriously, I need a midget (sorry the politically correct term is vertically challenged person) as a slave to do this shit. Perfect size to fit through the oven door and clean to his heart's content. Yes it's a he, a female midget would freak me out too much. He would also sleep under our bed. Again, perfect size. This, or a monkey that smokes cigars. I still can't decide.

So during all that cleaning and profuse sweating, I had time to think. I was inspired by one of my readers Liz, who asked for the original Le Cordon Bleu Banana Bread recipe. She made me realise that sometimes you simply can't go past the original. Substitutes more than often will not do, when the original is the best.

So it is in this spirit, that I share my original Prawns Saganaki recipe I came up with today. I had farm fresh buffalo tomatoes (thanks mum!) all the way from Adelaide to use up and a hankering for seafood. Boom, hunger plus fridge contents equals inspiration.

Before I go on, I didn't even know what saganaki means. Shame on me (for a Greek). So I googled that crap. Saganaki is a small round pan with two handles, used to cook and then serve the food in. I don't have one (yet) so I used my Lodge cast iron frying pan (one of my favourite utensils at the moment) which has two handles. Problem solved, I'm a genius.

Prawns Saganaki
5 mins prep time, 10 mins cooking time, serve immediately

olive oil
2 extremely ripe buffalo (extra large) tomatoes // or 1 cup tomato puree
splash white wine
350-400 g banana prawns
2 garlic cloves
handful fresh basil and parsley, chopped
feta cheese
fresh sea salt
fresh black pepper
toasted sourdough for serving
  1. If you're using fresh tomatoes, puree these in the blender and set aside. 
  2. Don't be a pussy, tear the antenna off the prawns and if preferred the legs too; but ensure to leave the heads and tails on as these will be the tastiest bits. Set the prawns aside.
  3. Smash the garlic cloves using the side of a knife, using enough force so the skin comes off and they start breaking into pieces and the garlic juice oozes out. Set aside. 
  4. Heat the pan, add olive oil, then tomato puree. Stir and cook for a few minutes until the water content of the tomatoes starts to evaporate. Add freshly ground sea salt, not too much as the feta is salty too, and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  5. Add the prawns ensuring they are placed flat in the pan with the sauce cooking between them for about 2 minutes. Once the sauce is thickening and looking a tad dry, splash in the white wine, then add the smashed garlic.
  6. Turn the prawns over to the other side. Cook for another 2 or so until cooked. Turn the heat off.
  7. Sprinkle the fresh herbs and crumble the feta cheese over the top.
  8. Shove the toasted sourdough slices on the side of the pan and bon appetit!
  • My mother in-law gave me the best tip about using garlic in cooking - always add it towards the end of the meal, so it doesn't burn but instead the fresh garlic flavour and fragrance is retained. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!
  • The softer the feta, the more it will melt and it won't need cooking. I like using Danish feta for this reason.
  • You can also sprinkle fresh lemon juice over the prawns at the end.
  • You might need a bib, these puppies are finger licking good and get messy. I thoroughly enjoyed sucking the prawn tails and heads, so tasty....oh mama. 
  • You can pretend you're Greek and use the bread to gather and soak up the tomato sauce goodness and clean the pan in the meantime. Licking your plate is also allowed. Do it, it's fun!
  • Perfect summer's treat with a glass of chilled white vino!

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    Happy Australia Day peeps!

    For yesterday. I was too drunk to write a post on the actual day. As my friend Gabrielle posted on her status on Facebook, "it wouldn't be 'Stralia day without a hangover". Here here. When I think (or Google) Australian traditional recipes, I get pavlova, lamingtons and Anzac biscuits. Don't forget the great Aussie BBQ. Fo' shizzle.

    Our mate JP threw one yesterday to celebrate, well, Australia Day.  Highlights include everyone chipping in to prepare the food, Guitar Hero, Twister, dress ups, Australian flag tattoos, international food, lots of laughter and a collective of awesome people from all over the world: Canada, Taiwan, Columbia, England, Greece, Macedonia, New York, Australia and maybe some others I forgot because I had one too many.

    Happy Australia Day from Captain Australia!

    Pavlova has a lot of cream. Don't you know foamy lattes make me bloated and farty?! So that was a no go. I was sure the boys would have bought dozens of supermarket pre-packaged lamingtons (gasp horror they didn't make them from scratch) and I was right. So I made Anzac biscuits. My hubby was slightly confused because he thought I should make them for Anzac Day...but I advised him what a great all purpose biscuit the Anzac biscuit really is, situable for all Australian celebrations.

    I used this recipe here and cross referenced it with several others. There didn't seem to be much deviation, in fact other recipes were identical. So I couldn't go wrong. They turned out a bit sweeter than I would have liked (keep in mind I'm anti excessive sugar usage and consumption) but WTF, they were still delicious, cute and demolished at the BBQ.

    City of Churches

    It's only fitting that in Adelaide people will worship something, it's hard not to with so many churches plonked all over the place. There's the bogans with their V8 super cars, specifically Holden; the coffee lovers with Cibo, the cafe franchise which by the way will pretty soon take over the churches; my mother with her olive trees; her partner with prawns; my godson with trains; and friends with babies.

    Then there's me. I'm still praying to the food gods to grant my every meal be tasty, delectable and delicious.

    Once upon a time I used to call Adelaide home. Now I'm simply a visitor catching up with family and friends. This time I stayed about 6 days and got back just before Australia Day. My mum dragged me to her friends BBQ, which I was not in the mood for. Once we were there I sucked it up and made an effort to get to know our hosts: Lili from Vietnam and her Greek husband George.

    Similarly to myself, Lili is also a worshiper of food but for a very different reason; because they never had enough of it in Vietnam. She would have to work a whole day just to buy half a kilo of beef. They could only afford to buy it once a month as a treat for the whole family to share. Their staple ingredient of course is rice as it's reasonably priced and filling to eat. I compare that to our approximate 90% meat diet. Crazy. And we think we have it tough with our plethora of food choices and general opportunities. They barely have enough to survive and when food ran out, they would scrape the bark off their banana tree and cook it to eat it.

    What struck me is that the most vivid memory she carries with her is the one of hunger and scarcity. She is so happy and grateful to now live in Australia and not be hungry; to be able to work and save some money and send it back to her family in Vietnam to help them.

    My worshipping of food will never cease, it's in my blood and burned into my every day practice since I was young. However from now on, every time I chow down on my meals I will extend my repertoire to be grateful and honour how lucky I am to live in such a great country.

    Lili showed us how to make fried rice, which she could never afford to make in Vietnam.

    Lili's Fried Rice Recipe
    3-4 cups cooked white rice
    olive oil
    3-4 eggs
    green peas
    3 tablespoons raw sugar

    all chopped into small pieces:
    red Spanish onion
    fresh, cleaned prawns
    green shallots

    1. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan. Beat the eggs together in a small bowl and pour into the hot frying pan to make an omelet. Once cooked, take out and place to the side and slice the omelet into small pieces.
    2. In the same frying pan, heat some more olive oil. Add the bacon, cabanosi and prawn pieces. Stir together well and cook for approximately 5 minutes until the meat is cooked. Stir in the red onion, garlic, carrot and peas until all mixed (and if peas were frozen, then until these thaw).
    3. Add the cooked rice, raw sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Stir through well. Lastly add the green shallots and omelet pieces. Voila! Ready to eat.

      Wednesday, January 18, 2012

      Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

      I'm living the dream. Now that I'm unemployed, I have time to read the newspaper. I came across a great article in the smh yesterday but I was so busy socialising and accessing the free Internet and iPad provided by my local bank (yeah weird, but I had time to kill between appointments and I was too tight to pay for Internet on my iPhone), that I didn't get a chance to share until now.

      Inspired by the turn the economy has been taking i.e. people having to be tightwads because they're losing their jobs, or live in fear of it happening, or never had a job to begin with, A Taste of Things to Come discusses various trends in eating. Interesting. Read it because I already do some of that shit and want to do more of it. Plus I can't be bothered repeating what the article already covers.

      It did get me excited because it mentions two places I want to eat at: Nourishing Quarter in Redfern (I first read the review in The Thousands, my favourite iPhone app/website for reviews on where to eat and drink) specialising in vegetarian plus gluten free, and Heston Blumenthal's Dinner restaurant in London.

      The article also inspired me to share some recycling ideas. I love these little French green peppercorn cans - after I used the contents I couldn't throw them away, so I turned them into tea light candle holders. NB: careful not to cut your fingers on the sharp edges. Dangerous, but they look great!

      I also turned a tomato can and some old ribbon into a rustic vase. Looks great with some David Austin roses in it. You can also turn old tea cups or glasses into small pot plants which keep great with succulents in them, inside or outside your home.

      P.S. someone should tell the Sydney urban beekeepers that Paris did it first on top of their Opera House.

      Television watching got me chasin' dreams

      That's it, I've had enough, I've seen five people walk past me today flaunting their Beats Dr Dre headphones. Bastards. I gotta get me some of that. All I ever wanted was to feel like a rap star.

      In the meantime I'm still waiting for the douche bag from eBay who sold me a fake dodgy pair to reply to my complaint. Those fuckers broke after only two weeks. The colour was slightly off and the print on the brochure was out of registration: tell tale signs of a fake.

      *boo hoo*

      I want a refund or at least a fake replacement pair so I can look cool too. Then I can sip on Bacardi and party like its my birthday.

      There's a lesson in this for you kids: you get what you pay for. Read eBay descriptions carefully and don't be afraid to ask questions. If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

      Sunday, January 15, 2012

      Honesty leads to freedom

      Today I went through an existential crisis, the first one for 2012. I looked into a puddle and asked myself, “Who am I?”. I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to life than just being ridiculously good looking.

      In my case my life is currently about pretending to be a 45 year old bored and uninspired house wife. That’s what my first four blog entries are making me sound like. I’m bored. That’s not me. Who the fuck is that? I feel like I've been taking crazy pills!

      I bitch slapped myself back to shape. I checked myself before I wrecked myself. It’s like I bathed off the coast of St Bart’s with spider monkeys for two weeks and changed my whole perspective on shit. I’m leaving the boring blog posts there as a reminder to never write that type of boring shit again. Boom, and she’s back, just like that. Happy, happy, hahahahahaha.

      As for next steps, the recipes will come…when I feel like it. And I’m not going to test those several times to make sure they’re OK. I’m assuming that if you’re allowed to operate an oven and stove top, then you should have an idea or two about cooking. You’ll just have to trust my culinary genius and spontaneity. Perfection does not exist. Shit happens. If the recipes don’t work out, then you suck, so use your resourcefulness, tweak it and try again. What happens when you fall off a horse?

      Oh yeah, and Le Banana Bread kind of sucks. I didn’t cook it enough plus I used gigantic bananas. I discovered there is such a thing as too much moisture! I suggest using two bananas instead of the three. On the bright side, the strawberry jam was the best fucking jam I’ve had in years. Sure it stuck to the bottom of the pan and I had to add more water when it needed it, but it was freaking awesome! That Hansel is so hot right now.

      Also keep an eye out, the design of the blog will be changing, this boring template can derelick my balls.

      Saturday, January 14, 2012

      Popeye food

      Today I was feeling low in energy and slightly under the weather, feels like my iron is low. I wasn’t in the mood to spend a long time in the kitchen and really wanted something nourishing, comforting and fast.

       Warm salad of silver beet, double potatoes and mushroom
      10 mins prep time, 15 mins cooking, serves 1 person for main/2 people as side salad

      1 medium size potato, peeled and washed
      1 medium size sweet potato, peeled and washed
      4-5 large silver beet leaves chopped into strips
      5 button mushrooms, thickly sliced
      Pinch of ground cumin seed
      Pinch oregano
      Sea salt and black pepper to taste
      Dash olive oil
      Juice of ½ lemon
      Small handful of walnuts
      1. Cut the potato and sweet potato into decent sized cubes or chunks, and then steam (approx. 10 mins) until cooked.
      2. Heat a frying pan, add the olive oil, toss in the mushrooms and stir, cook for 1 min. Add the silver beet and continue stirring until cooked for approx. 4 mins. Toss in the steamed potato and sweet potato, then the cumin and oregano and stir through. Turn heat off.
      3. Add freshly cracked sea salt and pepper. Place on serving plate, drizzle the lemon juice on top and extra olive oil if needed. Crush the walnuts in your hand and sprinkle on top as garnish.
      4. Eat immediately on its own as a main meal. Alternatively as a side salad with either steak or chicken or fish.

      Friday, January 13, 2012

      Le Banana Bread

      I have a Le Cordon Bleu cake book which contains a fab banana bread recipe. I've cooked it several times before and amend the recipe each time depending on dietary requirements or mood. For example I've made this recipe before using wholemeal flour and by reducing the sugar and even amount of bananas. Remember, the more bananas in the mixture, the more moist the bread will be.

      Today I had three large dodgy bananas (I usually use two or three small ones) to get rid of which will give me maximum moisture! They don't look great, but the bread will taste great and the outcome is all I care about. I've been wanting to start cooking with rice flour and because I haven't baked with it  before, I will be using half rice and half plain flour. Plus I will reduce the sugar significantly from the original recipe, as I minimise it wherever I can and always substitute white sugar for brown. The more natural and unprocessed, the better.

      Angie's Le Banana Bread
      15mins prep, approx. 50mins cooking, yield is 1 medium size loaf, place in airtight container and in the fridge for storage

      160g unsalted butter at room temperature
      150g soft brown sugar
      2 eggs
      125g plain flour
      125g rice flour
      2 teaspoons baking powder
      ½ teaspoon nutmeg
      3 ripe bananas mashed
      1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
      2. Grease and flour the loaf tin.
      3. Sift the plain flour, rice flour, baking powder and nutmeg into a bowl.
      4. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer. Add the eggs one at a time. Then add the mashed banana and mix well, followed by slowly adding the flour mixture and mix until smooth.
      5. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin. Bake in the oven for approx. 50 mins. You'll know the bread is ready when you insert a skewer into the centre and it comes out clean.
      6. Take out of the oven and leave to cool for 5-10 mins, before taking out of the tin. Enjoy!

      Back to School Jamming

      I met my sister-in-law for lunch at Salvador Coffee in Darlinghurst. On closer inspection, as I was waiting for my lunch date to arrive, I realised the seats are pre-loved school seats, etchings and engravings all still remaining… amusing.

      The setup is Spartan but effective. They roast the beans on site up the stairs on the first level. They serve minimal but enough food such as muffins and approximately 4-5 different sourdough sandwiches. They don’t do much, but what they do is at a high quality and delicious. The coffee was extremely pleasant and the organic sourdough sandwich with ham, cheese and avocado was satisfying and filling.

      After lunch I walked my sister-in-law to the National Art School where she’s taking a summer course on anatomy of the body. Until today I didn’t know that the school even existed or that it was a gaol, just tucked away amongst the craziness of Taylor’s Square in Darlinghurst, behind the court house. Reminded me of the soggy jam sandwiches I would find tucked between my books at the bottom of my school bag. Then I remembered the homemade apricot jam my mum would make, the smell still pungent in my nostrils. I haven’t had jam like that in years, mouth-watering.

      So I became determined to use up that punnet of strawberries sitting in the fridge, which is not quite good enough to eat, but not bad enough to throw out either. Oh and the dodgy bananas…they seem like a great idea at the supermarket when they’re all shiny and fresh, it’s just eating them that seems to be the problem.

      Angie’s Homemade Strawberry Jam
      5 mins prep, 35-50mins cooking, yield is ½ small jar

      1 punnet dodgy strawberries, washed, hulled and halved
      ½ cup caster sugar
      ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
      1 cup water

      Throw everything in a small saucepan (non stick or cast iron preferred). Stir until sugar is melted, leave to simmer for 5 mins until the strawberries start breaking down. Use wooden spoon to break the strawberry pieces into halves again in the pan whilst cooking and stir. Cook on low heat for a further 30-45 mins, stirring often so the jam does not stick to bottom of pan. Do this until it’s reached a jammy consistency. Turn off heat, leave to cool and place in a small sterilised jar in the fridge. It should keep for about a week..if you don’t eat it before then. I enjoyed mine on sourdough with butter - yum! Fresh scones would go really well too, but I couldn't be bothered making them. I'll leave those for another time.

      I hate waste (oh yes and my pay cheques aren't coming in anymore so I can't throw money away like I used to) so tommorrow I have to do something with those bananas.

      Salvador Coffee Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

      Thursday, January 12, 2012

      New Beginnings

      With every ending there’s a new beginning. I bid adios to my corporate job in December 2011 (at least for the next 12 months, having taken a career break from the organisation) and became a Mrs. I didn’t leave my job because I got married, the timing just seemed to suit emotionally, career and calendar wise. Three’s a charm so it was time for a change.

      First things first, I’ve had to get our inner city apartment organised. Due to our jobs and extracurricular activities, the two years we’ve been living there meant substantial neglect of our home and an accumulation of junk and paper and items jammed into cupboards and drawers. It was time to cleanse, reorganise and start fresh. So I started with my favourite room in our home: the kitchen.

      We had a wedding registry at Peter's of Kensington and were lucky to receive lots of wonderful kitchen goods as gifts. I spent three days cleaning and reorganising the kitchen, as I envisioned that during my career break, this is where I would spend most of my time. When I worked full time it meant that I would only have time to cook a decent meal on weekends and that was only if I felt up to the task. On weeknights I wouldn’t get the chance to cook as often as I’d like to. Cooking is my escape where I get the opportunity to be passionate, creative and spontaneous. So getting back into the kitchen has been something I’ve been craving to do for a while. This process of reorganisation reminds me of any creative process, where although creativity is spontaneous, preparation and the engagement of a range of tools to be used for execution are required.

      The kitchen is my studio and plate my canvas. My studio is ready, now it’s time to cook!

      This is the bad boy my mother-in-law got me. A must for anyone who likes to bake!
      I chose the Kenwood kMix for three reasons:
      1. sentimental (my mother has a Kenwood mixer); 
      2. quality and durability (she bought it 30 years ago); and 
      3. power (500-watt motor compared to KitchenAid which is only 300-watt).