Monday, 31 March 2014

Cole Cake

My parents flew in to Melbourne the day after my birthday and seeing as I didn't have cake on my actual birthday (too busy gorging ourselves at Gazi) I decided to make one.

I always put a lot of thought into birthday cakes. I try to come up with something different, usually a fusion of a few recipes, and unique to the birthdayee. So for myself I considered my favourite things which at the moment are peanut butter & nutella and I adore a good cream cheese icing. 
Introducing the Cole* Cake- chocolate cake with whipped peanut butter filling and Nutella cream cheese icing. 

Thursday, 27 March 2014

My kind of street food {Gazi Review}

I have always felt a little bit Greek. 

I have never really looked it though, with the red hair and the blue eyes and pasty skin. Although, when I was about sixteen I went to a Greek cafe with my dad, a place where he was a regular. With his black hair, olive-ish skin and passion for Greek coffee and food I think the owner had assumed he was Greek (actually he is a crazy mix of Irish, Scottish, German and a splash of Welsh). When the cafe owner saw me he clapped his hands and said "Your daughter, she is the original Greek!" Apparently in certain parts of Greece, many many years ago, before the Romans came along with their dominant dark-haired genes, there were a number of redheads in Greece. He was rather disappointed to hear that we were both just mongrels (mixed breed:) He quickly recovered when he realised I had the same passion for his food.

I was born in a small country town in NSW. My dad had been virtually adopted by a delightful Greek family and used to spend many afternoons with them, being fed by my Nona and playing snooker with my Nono. When they heard my parents hadn't really considered godparents for me, they begged for the opportunity and my honorary Greekness began. Every Friday, until we moved away when I was twelve, I would eat spanakopita and kourambiethes (which I loved) and hide the koulourakia (which I didn't like) in my pockets until I could escape down to feed them to the chooks. Yes, they had chooks, and a huge veggie garden and their house smelt like dill and olive oil and love.

Greek food will forever be a favourite and so when selecting a birthday dinner location, George Columbaris' messy Greek street food at Gazi was a chance to revisit my childhood.

Monday, 24 March 2014

My birthday in pictures

What I woke up to

Breakfast- I call it the BEAST (Bacon Egg Aoili Spinach Tomato)

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Balsamic Blueberry Grilled Cheese {Week 5 of the Grilled Cheese Transformation}

Are you shaking your head? Have you not discovered the miracle of balsamic vinegar and fruit yet? Read on my sweet, your life is about to be changed forever.

The first time I saw the list of 31 Grilled Cheeses that are better than a boyfriend I was besotted by the Balsamic blueberry Grilled Cheese. It may be the most luscious looking grilled cheese ever with the purple-red berry compote, bright green spinach and molten cheese. Amanda K. by the Bay is the creator of the masterpiece- a stunning blog with gorgeous photographs and some seriously drool-worthy recipes. Do a search on her blog for 'ice cream', go on, I dare you......

I decided to try my hand at kale chips too after my success with superfood last week

You will need:

For the sandwich
Bread of your choice
1/2 cup blueberries per sandwich (I used frozen ones)
Balsamic vinegar- about 2 tsp per 1/2 cup of blueberries
Baby spinach
Cheese- I used mozzarella but some kind of nutty flavoured white cheese would be superb
Butter or margarine for spreading on the outside of the bread
Oil for the pan

For the kale chips
1 bunch of kale washed and dried
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt
Smoked paprika

First make sure your kale is very well dried. I washed it, then patted it dry on paper towels then let it air dry for a bit as well.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Superfood Grilled Cheese {Week 4 of the Grilled Cheese Transformation}

We all know kale is a superfood- able to kill off cancer cells and leap tall buildings in a single bound. Well, it better be super because I have been drinking sludgy, brown, gritty and sometimes chewy smoothies for breakfast for two weeks now and if kale isn't going to make me live forever then I'm going to be mighty pissed off.

While I'm on the subject of superfoods, don't you think it is strange how every list of "The foods you absolutely must eat" has different foods listed on it. Hmmmm.

Ok, we all know 'superfood' is just one of those phrases that everyone is going to look back on, roll their guys and talk about the teenies (like the eighties and the nineties) but at the end of the day 'superfoods' are so named because they have a higher than usual concentration of nutrients. And nutrients are good. So who wants sludge for breakfast?

I am not a fan of kale. I know it is nutrient-dense but it is tough, rubbery and bitter and makes my smoothies grey. I have tried massaging it (this website even has a video), because it's hard work being a superfood and maybe the kale is just a bit stressed. But I lack patience, after 30 seconds it still tastes like kale.

Then I saw #29 grilled cheese with mozzarella, kale and prosciutto from 31 grilled cheeses that are better than a boyfriend and I decided to give the little fella another chance. The recipe comes from
Last Call for Corn, a lovely blog with a focus on shopping locally and eating seasonally (although she doesn't seem to be updating anymore which is a bit sad).

The beauty of this sandwich is that the bad cancels out the good. Superfood kale knocks the delicious salty fattiness out of the prosciutto and grain and seed sourdough smothers the mozzarella (WWF style). Plus, cheese has calcium and minerals so it might even qualify as a superfood on the next list, or in the 2020s we might discover it is the cure for global warming- who knows.....

Friday, 14 March 2014

Half way....

In January I signed up for 100 Happy Days, a project where, for 100 days, you submit a photo of something that made you happy. You can find my initial post here. Well, I am halfway (more than halfway actually) and going strong.

It has been a very interesting exercise and tougher than I thought it might be after that first day of relishing the novelty of it all. It may be because some big stuff has happened- I changed jobs, I had (another) health scare and the Bookworm went back to uni. Some days I was so overwhelmed by the world that trying to find a good moment seemed impossible and exhausting but because I had* to, I did. That is really the essence of the project for me; even on a bad day, most of my problems are very first world and there is always something to be grateful for or a moment of happiness to reflect upon.

Struggletown days

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Taco Grilled Cheese {Week 3 of The Grilled Cheese Transformation}

Committing to grilled cheese once a week is a beautiful thing. You know there is at least one night per week of cheesy comfort food to look forward to (background info here) and a fairly lazy blog post (for which I apologise).

The Bookworm decided to have a go this week. He selected Taco Grilled Cheese - again by Closet Cooking. As usual, it was modified a little.

Seasoned ground beef:
Minced beef was browned with onion and garlic and then beef stock and Mexican spice was added to taste.

Store-bought guacamole. I know, cheating! Avocados were seriously expensive and the Black Swan guacamole is really good.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Lemon curd & basil meringues {Recipe}

When life gives you lemons....make lemon curd, not lemonade. Curd is by far the more valuable commodity, I often get suckered into paying $15 for a teensy tiny jar in a deli because I really really love it.
lemon curd jar recipe homemade

A recent visit to my favourite animal rescue to drop off some donated food and towels yielded a huge bag of lemons. Having recently read Cider With Rosie's post on seville orange curd I was inspired. I have made lemon curd before but I remember it being a huge hassle whereas Rosie's recipe looked pretty approachable.

But what to do with the leftover egg whites?

Again, blogs to the rescue. Thoroughly English did a post recently using the Meringue Girls recipe that reminded me how much I like meringue (PS. even if you have no intention of making these click on the like to Thoroughly English's meringues because that is some super-hot food styling). Plus I remembered a conversation with a dear buddy about an amazing basil and raspberry macaron she ate in Paris.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The Terminus Hotel {Review}

The Terminus Hotel at Clifton Hill (or Fitzroy North- the suburb titles are almost interchangable) is an absolute package deal; craft beers on tap, a really solid local wine list, astoundingly good food (forget gastropub, this is the next level) and the classiest beer garden in Melbourne.

A fairly recent fit-out has seen the drive-through space converted into a very well designed casual beer garden. Even as it fills, and it does fill, the layout avoids the claustrophobic jumble of chairs and noise that tamper the vibe in many a beer garden. The renovation around the craft bar is also very elegant and there is still the option of the original pub-like space on the other side for those that prefer old school. I have to mention the Craftbar menu too- freaking bao at a pub! Be still my beating heart- buns and beer, why have I not tried this yet?

On this occasion we were celebrating a new job so steak was called for. We were organised and booked for the dining room.