Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Penne with a Spicy Sausage and Tomato Sauce

WANTED: A simple child-friendly mid-week meal that doesn't involve toast soldiers.

Consider it delivered!

Penne with a Spicy Sausage and Tomato Sauce
(Serves 4)

Olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 x 400g tins of crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup of white or red wine (if you feel like it!)
3/4 cup chicken stock
6-8 Italian sausages, skins removed
1-2 tbsp chopped basil
350g penne

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large pan and gently saute the onion until it is soft. Add the garlic and let it cook for a minute.

Add the tomatoes, wine and stock and bring to the boil. Break the sausages into small chunks as you add them to the pan. Cover and leave the mixture to simmer over a medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring often.

Meanwhile, boil the penne until it is al dente. Drain, then add to the sauce and stir well. Season with salt and pepper, mix in the basil then serve straight away with a little parmesan sprinkled on top.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Steak with Spanish-Style Mushrooms

This meal came about as an accident. I found a recipe online which had sauteed chorizo and mushrooms as a side dish to a good steak. I had a few extra veggies in the fridge which needed using up so I adapted the recipe and it was a hit with my darling partner. Even I (who admittedly doesn't really like red meat) really enjoyed this meal, so I've decided to share!

Steak with Spanish-style mushrooms
(Serves 4)

Olive oil
4 steaks
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 chorizo sausages, thickly sliced then halved
2 red capsicums (or peppers if you prefer to call them that!), diced
15 button mushrooms, quartered
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 small bunch of spinach
Fresh parsley

Rub the steaks with a little olive oil, season well with salt and pepper then pan fry, grill or barbeque until cooked to your liking. Set them side to rest.

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a saucepan and gently saute the onion and garlic until the onion is soft. Add the chorizo and cook for 5 minutes then add the capsicum and mushrooms, cook for 2-3 minutes then add the stock and season the mix well with salt and pepper.

Once the liquid has reduced (it should only take a couple of minutes), take the saucepan off the heat then add the spinach and some fresh parsley. Stir well until the spinach has begun to wilt then serve the mushroom mixture with the steak on top.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Prosciutto, pea and lemon pasta

It's spring here in Australia and the weather is well and truly warming up after a (not particularly) cold and (definitely not!) rainy winter!

This is a simple pasta dish to make with only a handful of ingredients that reflects the return to warmer weather.

Prosciutto, pea and lemon pasta
(Serves 4)

Olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
8 slices of prosciutto, chopped
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup frozen peas (add more or less depending on how much you love peas!)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
400g tagliatelle
75g grated gruyere cheese
2-3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley

Heat some olive oil in a saucepan and saute the onion and prosciutto (you want the prosciutto to get a bit crispy around the edges!)

Add the chicken stock, frozen peas, lemon zest and juice and simmer for a couple of minutes until the peas are tender and the stock has reduced.

Meanwhile, cook the tagliatelle until al dente then drain well and add to the sauce with the gruyere cheese, the fresh parsley and plenty of cracked black pepper. Stir well then serve and devour!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Eating Melbourne 2010

I was in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago and practically ate and shopped the entire time. It was great! I don't have any photos of what I ate (my camera is slowly dying and part of me was a bit embarrassed to be snapping pics in trendy restaurants) but I thought I'd share my experiences anyway.

Fifteen Melbourne (115-117 Collins Street, Melbourne)
The place has a really trendy feel to it. The restaurant has an open kitchen so I spent most of the night peering over Pete's shoulder to watch the kitchen staff at work. Tobie Puttock was actually working that night which was a tad exciting.

The service was flawless which was very impressive, however the food was pretty mediocre. My primi (entree) was orecchiette with butternut pumpkin, amaretti crumble, sage and pecorino toscano. It was bland. And there was no crumble. It was pasta with small chunks of pumpkin in a "blended pumpkin and water" sauce with a few sage leaves. My main was a perfectly cooked piece of barramundi with chickpeas cooked in tomatoes with basil. The chickpeas were nice, although a bit bland (I don't think Fifteen believes in "seasoning") and there was sand through it. Really uncool. However, dessert was nice - a Granny Smith apple creme brulee with clove ice-cream and almond biscotti. The brulee let out a good crack as I broke through the top of it and the clove ice-cream is probably one of the best things I've eaten in a long time. The biscotti was crap though - so hard that neither Pete nor I could actually bite through it.

All in all, I probably wouldn't recommend it - there are much better restaurants in Melbourne!

Gingerboy (27-29 Crossley Street, Melbourne)
My absolute favourite restaurant in Melbourne, it specialises in Hong Kong hawker style food. The dining room is funky, the bar is full of amazing looking cocktails and there's a real vibe about the place which is right in the heart of Chinatown.

For starters (which we shared), we ate prawn and ginger dumplings with red vinegar dressing and braised duck spring rolls with spiced plum and hoi sin sauce. Divine! Our shared mains were red duck leg curry with shallots, Thai basil and coconut cream and wok fried satay chicken and prawns with spring onions in a pancake, served with jasmine rice. It was just gorgeous and incredibly satisfying (since I'd been fantasizing about the red duck curry since I went to Melbourne last year!)

I would recommend Gingerboy to anyone and everyone! Go! Seriously!

Punch Lane Restaurant and Wine Bar (43 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne)
Punch Lane is one of Pete's favourite places to eat in Melbourne. Although this time we went on a Saturday night and the dining room was actually very, very noisy - we could barely hear each other and had to shout much of our conversation. Apart from the noise level, we had a lovely evening - the food is beautiful, very simple but clean and full of flavour.

Our shared entrees were tiger prawns wrapped in panchetta with a lemon mayonnaise and manchego, potato and thyme croquettes with tomato chilli jam. My main meal was a special and not something straight from the menu - it was a risotto with baby peas, mint and goats cheese which was really, really beautiful. Dessert was a spiced carrot pudding with orange jelly and vanilla mascarpone.

I'd definitely recommend Punch Lane - I can't emphasize enough how well-cooked the meals are, even though they may sound quite simple. But perhaps go on a week night when the place is a little quieter!

Also of note in Melbourne:

AIX Creperie (24 Centre Place, Melbourne) This tiny little out-of-the-way place was an awesome find (thanks to Melbourne bloggers who raved about it!!!) I wanted to eat half of the menu! I ended up with the BLT crepe.

Haigh's Chocolates - my favourite cream-filled chocolates are lime, rose, violet and mint.

Koko Black - get the Belgian truffles. I get shivers just thinking about it!

And as silly as it sounds, the burger ordered from room service at the Mantra on Russell was really tasty! It was huge but it was so good and I ate the entire thing (which I probably shouldn't have done, because it really was HUGE!!!) It had a big meaty beef pattie, plenty of salad, egg, relish, cheese all stuffed into two sliced of toasted Turkish bread with a side of chips. Late night bliss!

Our trip to Melbourne was a good chance to get away (even though Pete had to work for a couple of days) and it was good to see more of the city. We may be moving over next year due to work so that will be really exciting. And if we don't move, then I'll just have to go back across next time Pete gets sent for work. :)