Archive for May, 2011

Healthy Spicy Eggplant

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

It’s really annoying, because my cravings for food are not just triggered by smells or by sight. They are also triggered by SOUND!  The pfffssttt of a can of diet coke opening makes me run for the vending machine. The crackle of a chip packet… and today – my friend talking about eggplant made me change my dinner plans from fajitas to eggplant.  Here’s the way I make a healthy version of spicy sichuan eggplant.  It’s usually sitting in a pool of tasty yummy oil from the eggplant being deepfried.  But instead, what I do is steam the eggplant!  A medium sized eggplant – chopped.  While you steam it (it takes 15minutes-ish), you can prepare the aromatics:  2 cloves of finely chopped garlic, a knob of ginger, a sprig of spring onion sliced and a handful of chopped coriander.

You can use pork mince or chicken mince.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a hot wok. I say a couple of tablespoons because you do want to make it a bit more yummy since you saved on the deep frying ;) , then saute the ginger and garlic.  Add the mince and cook the mince.  When the mince is almost cooked, add the spring onions and stir fry until cooked.  Add the now ready eggplant plus 1 tablespoon EACH of spicy bean paste sauce,  hoisin sauce, soy sauce.  In a small bowl, mix a teaspoon of cornflour in some chicken stock and pour into the wok and simmer until thickened.  Now you can put a dash of sesame oil and then stir in the coriander at the last minute.  Serve with steamed rice.  YUM!

Slow cooked beef ragout – it’s winter time! bbrrrr

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

It is WELL and TRULY winter in Sydney!  The temperature can be in the single digits even during the day – and I am soon going to be dragging out my heater – I’ve done so well so far, as most of my friends have succumbed!! :)  Winter food means slow cooked, warming your home and your heart.  And red wine of course ;)  I just made a huge batch of slow cooked beef ragout, it’s so easy, as you just prepare it and leave it on the stove or in the oven and forget about it!  First, I took 500g of chuck steak and cut it into little pieces.  I browned off the beef in some olive oil, then added diced carrot and celery and onion, and three cloves of garlic.  When the veges were almost soft, I poured in a cup of red wine and let the water evaporate.  Chuck in a few bayleaves, basil and oregano, and a 700mL bottle of passata.  I also added a beef stock cube.  Cover, boil on low for an hour.  Snuggle up with a magazine and hot chocolate in the meantime :)

When it’s done, I should have made my own pasta, but I was too hungry and lazy, so I just used spaghetti.  I drizzled it with truffle oil for a special luxurious touch, and served with parsley :)    There’s so much left for my freezer for a few more dinners :)

Caffe di Stefano: Brand new Coffee Warehouse Cafe & Deli, Homebush

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Hot off the press!!!! Coffee Warehouse Cafe & Deli (CWCD for short) has JUST opened TODAY!!!  Driving by this site formerly a motorcycle shop, I was soooo excited to see that it was a proposed coffee ROASTER, warehouse, cafe and providore – 4 in 1 of my favourite things!!! Many a time I drove by, wistfully waiting for opening day.  I thought that day approached when I saw the ad in Seek for the head chef. But alas, more days passed before the paper went up behind the glass facade and then such a tease – the “opening soon” sign!!  And FINALLY this day has come! I saw movement there last week and called up Caffe di Stefano and said they were opening today. I made sure I was there.  It was definitely a low key opening – only locals in the know would find out about it! Just a bunch of balloons at the entrance, and signs of life, as opposed to most of the surrounding Parramatta Road area which is derelict!  The first sight you see is the pizza bar – wood fired of course.  Serving as a takeaway, and provider of freshly baked super thinly authentic pizzas for the restaurant.

The restaurant itself is a wide open warehouse space on ground level, and a mezzanine level.  A number of very large communal tables made of polished timber are surrounded by trendy stainless steel chairs.  A bar runs along the length of the window for gazing out into the street – or for me to sit and read my paper as I intend to, every single weekend for the rest of my life ;)  There are also tables of four as well.  Well , not time to eat yet – so I browsed around the shop.  It wasn’t so huge, but the offerings were quality.  Fresh italian crusty bread in every shape you would need for your weekend gourmet table, and at VERY reasonable prices.

The deli has a wide variety of salumi and other meats, as well as anti pasti.  Judging by the hooks above it, I am guessing that some lovely legs of proscuitto may soon arrive :)


Terrific Choccy Cake Recipe!

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

This post serves two purposes. Firstly, to share with you an AMAZING chocolate cake recipe that my friend Bec found on the net. It’s a sour cream chocolate cake. Eww I hate sour cream. You too? Well doesn’t matter, because you can’t actually taste it! It makes the cake sooo moist. And for some reason, it generates a huge chocolatey hit even though the cake is only made with cocoa! I’ll say no more, here is the recipe:

It makes a huge batch. I got 16 full sized cupcakes and 24 mini cupcakes out of it!

And the second purpose of my blog post, is to say – now I know why you have to use castor sugar if it says castor sugar! I made the cupcakes two days ago, and today reaching for one of them, I can see little white speckles all over them! On closer inspection, it is undissolved sugar! The recipe doesn’t say castor sugar, and since castor costs more than normal sugar I used normal….. learnt my lesson! No impact on taste or the inside though.

I find this case’s texture excellent for shaping, and making children’s cakes, it is very sturdy but still soft and crumby. Hope you find it useful! :)