Monday, August 30, 2010

Spinach & Fetta Pie

Firstly, I hope you'll forgive the lack of photos. Two weeks off and I'm out of practice - I totally forgot about the photos!


Spinach & Fetta Pie
serves 4-6
  • 8-10 sheets fillo pastry
  • melted butter (about 50g)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1tbs rice bran oil
  • 1 bunch silverbeet, washed and shredded
  • 150-200g fetta, crumbled
  • 6 eggs, well beaten
Preheat oven to 180C.

Steam the spinach over a pot of boiling water, and squeeze out excess water when cooked.

Saute onion and garlic in oil, until transparent, then allow to cool.

Line a medium sized pie/baking dish with the fillo pastry, brushing every second sheet with melted butter. Spread the onion over the base, then the spinach. Sprinkle the fetta over the spinach, the pour the beaten egg over the top.

Fold the excess fillo over the filling (you could also use more fillo to make a lid). Bake for approx 40 minutes until filling is set.


-Alphie

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cafe One Forty, Bunbury

Whew! I have been I bad blogger of late!

Admittedly I have been busy(ish) - I moved in with FH Alphie's (older) sister in Perth, than about 2 days later I was whisked to Melbourne for work for 3 days, then a weekend in Sydney before flying back to Perth and work on Monday. It's taken a few days to settle in to the routine that FSIL and her partner have going on, cooking-wise, but I've finally found my groove again but I am back in the kitchen with a vengeance.

Before I get into that, I have just spent the weekend in Bunbury with my parents and sister (Ms Red), where amongst other things, we had a lazy Sunday brunch before my parents had to drive to Perth to catch a flight back the east coast. Under Ms Red's guidance, we went to 'the only cafe in Bunbury with decent coffee', Cafe One Forty.

After perusing the menu, we sent Dad off to the counter, list in hand, to place our order. Clearly, he doesn't read this blog, because minutes later, four large coffees arrived at our table!

Mums (or are they Dads?) poached eggs with doorstopper toast and tomatoes

Mum and Dad ordered the same thing, poached eggs, but given that they have just celebrated their 32nd (I hope I got that right) wedding anniversary, I guess I can forgive them!

Ms Reds poached eggs, with with doorstopper toast and tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms

Ms Red also had poached eggs but added mushrooms and spinach.

Scrambled eggs, with with doorstopper toast and tomatoes, and premium bacon

I bucked the trend and went with scrambled eggs, and bacon.

I hope to keep up with the posting, so you should hear from me again soon!

-Alphie

(Cafe One Forty, 140 Victoria St, Bunbury, ph: (08) 9721 2254)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tom's Kitchen, Perth

Friday night, 8.30pm; FH Alphie and I decide to go in search of food, thinking that the late hour will mean we are more likely to get a table. Boy, were we wrong. We turned up at Andaluz Bar and Tapas in Howard Street to find a queue and two bouncers at the door. We quietly waited in line, only to find (once reaching the front) that the queue was for entry to the bar only and we would have to fight for a table once we were allowed in. The bouncer kindly let us in to see if we could find a seat, but one lap around the venue told us that it was unlikely, and to be honest, it was not the chilled wine bar we had hoped it would be.

Classic chilli mussels with house bread

After walking laps around the Perth CBD, we settled on a restaurant one block shy of our hotel (my poor feet....) in Shafto Lane, just across from Burger Bistro. Tom's Kitchen is a small-ish cafe-restaurant, serving 'classic European food in a comfortable setting' (their words, not mine). We were still chasing the tapas vibe, so we started with chilli mussels and garlic prawns to share, and planned to see how we felt before ordering something 'more substantial'. Hence, we held on to our menus, which seemed to cause no end of confusion to the lovely, but young, waitresses looking after the floor - we were asked on three separate occasions if we were ready to order, after placing our prawn & mussels order.

Garlic prawns and house made bread

Once the confusion had settled down, our faux-tapas (fapas?) arrived. I started with the prawns, which were a startling green colour (see above), but the result was super tasty, if a little over salted. The mountain of mussels arrived on our table with a bowl of water with a lemon slice, and a empty bowl for the shells - lucky we were at a table for 4! The mussels were tender and plentiful, with just the slightest hint of chilli, in a soupy tomato broth. Our biggest concern was that there wasn't enough bread to soak up all the juices that were left (on both dishes!).

House made gnocchi, chorizo and rosemary

Once the plates had been cleared, we started talking about the next 'course'. FH Alphie has his eye on the house made gnocchi, but was having trouble deciding between the baked four cheese and the chorizo and rosemary. He finally decided on the chorizo and rosemary, which was served with a tomato based sauce. The sauce was tasty, if a little low on rosemary, and the gnocchi was a bit too firm, but I like gnocchi to be quite light and fluffy.

Mixed mushroom ragout with porcini and buckwheat polenta

Already feeling quite full, I had ordered one of the smaller meals, a mixed mushroom ragout. And was pleasantly surprised to see a true mixture of mushrooms! So often 'mixed mushroom' simply means button and dried porcini mushrooms. I was treated to enoki, oyster and (what I think were) swiss brown mushrooms. And, it was surprisingly rich, tasty and filling for mushrooms.

Roasted roots

And, just to make sure we were totally full, FH Alphie ordered a side of roasted root vegetables.

-Alphie

Monday, August 16, 2010

Phi Yen, Perth

Friday was FH Alphie's last full day in Perth, so I took an extended lunch break, and we meet for lunch in the enex100 food court. I had eaten at Phi Yen earlier in the week when my search for avocado-free sushi had proved fruitless (ha! no pun intended!). I tried the Bun Bo Hue the first time around, and vowed to return to try the beef pho.

Goi Cuon (rice paper rolls with chicken, prawns & vegetables)

We ordered at the counter, and received our rice paper rolls and a pub-style buzzer for the rest. We found a seat in the licensed area of the food court, adjacent to Phi Yen and tucked in to the rice paper rolls while waiting for the buzzer to go off.

Pho Tai (beef noodle soup)

The beef pho, a dish that I could eat every day and never get sick of, was ready first so I collected my tray from the counter, filling a few small containers with condiments while I was there (sliced chilli, lemon wedges and fish, soy, chilli and hoi sin sauces were on offer). A generous amount of sliced beef was layered on top of the rice noodles, topped with mint, coriander and sliced onion. The broth was quite meaty, more so than most others I have tried before, and very satisfying.

Bun Bo Cao Ca Ot (rice vermicelli with lemongrass chilli beef and salad)

If beef pho is my test of a Vietnamese restaurant, then vermicelli salad (either beef or the special/combo) is FH Alphie's test. He said it was not the best vermicelli salad he's had, but it was still tasty, with a high beef to salad ratio.

-Alphie

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Greenhouse, Perth

FH Alphie and I went out to breakfast again on Thursday (I know! two school days in one week!). I had already been to Greenhouse for coffee, and was intrigued by the concept and thought it would be a great place for breakfast while I'm still staying in the CBD.


The building is made from recycled, raw and sustainable materials wherever possible, and similar concepts are applied to the food. A rooftop garden supplies produce to the kitchen; bread is baked, and yoghurt is made, on site; and a worm farm provides fertiliser for the rooftop garden. (check out the website for more details - www.greenhouseperth.com)

baked chorizo, piquillo pepper, beans & egg

As always, we started with coffee while we decided what to have for breakfast. FH Alphie is sold on anything that is served with chorizo, so naturally, he went with the baked chorizo & egg. Which surprisingly came with a poached, not baked, egg, but FH Alphie quite enjoyed it anyway.

toasted muesli, strawberries, passionfruit & yoghurt

After the huge, egg and butter laden breakfast I had at No. 44 King St on Tuesday, I went for a more virtuous option this time - toasted muesli with house made yoghurt. While the muesli was tasty, and the yoghurt was delish, it really made me realise that I don't actually like toasted muesli. It's just so crunchy, and requires too much chewing!

All in all it was a great venue, with good food, and I'm pretty keen to head back for lunch or drinks & 'evening eats'.

-Alphie

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The search is on...

...for a decent coffee in Perth...

Greenhouse - skim flat white

I started the search on a Friday at a popular coffee spot that came highly recommended, tiger tiger on Murray St. In terms of first impressions, it was going quite well.... until I met with the slow moving line. The ordering line was moving so slowly, and once I made it to the front there was some discussion about weather I would be able to use my keep cup. That sorted, I proceeded to order my usual, a small skim flat white, and handed over my $4 (yes, $4 for a small coffee in my own cup). While I was waiting I noticed that they only seemed to use 12oz cups -generally considered medium or large size coffee in Sydney. Unfortunately, it was the most bitter coffee I have ever had, and was quite possibly burnt as well. I am tempted to return (without the keep cup) and give it another chance, because I have heard such good reviews, but the memory of that horrible coffee is keeping me away for now.

Monday morning saw me running a bit late, so I went to work without my morning coffee. Luckily, the Engineering Manager invited me out for a coffee and a quick chat (he's also an east-coastite). We ducked (kind of) across the road, to Shots Espresso Bar, on Hay St. The first thing I noticed, was that they had 8oz cups! So, again, I ordered a small skim flat white, for $3.70 (in a takeaway cup today). It wasn't a bad coffee, but it wasn't a great coffee either. Definitely not as bitter as the tiger tiger coffee, but too milky for my taste, not enough coffee!

Tuesday's search saw me head in the opposite direction, away from work, to King St, where I was told I would find good coffee. I stopped in at Etro Bistro, the first place I passed. Again, only 12oz cups were available (why??), so a large skim flat white it was ($4.10), although I didn't mind, as I knew I had a long day ahead of me. Unfortunately, I didn't finish the coffee (FH Alphie will try to tell you this is a common occurrence, but it's not as bad as he makes out), because, again, it was unappealingly bitter - maybe that is why I am always asked if I would like sugar!

Wednesday saw a second venture down King St, to another recommendation, Velvet Espresso. While I was waiting for my coffee ($3.70 for a 8oz skim flat white), I was hoping that this would be the one. I really wanted to like this place. The barista was friendly, the venue small but charming, and although there was a considerable number of people who ordered before me, the service was quick (and friendly). First sip, and I thought 'woohoo! I've found it!', it definitely did not have that bitterness that has plagued my coffee so far. Second sip, and I realised, it suffered from that other coffee affliction, it was too milky, and yet again, I struggled to finish the cup.

On Thursday I had an early start for a flight to Kalgoorlie, and had coffee at the airport. And, it lived up to my expectations - airport coffee does not qualify for a review.

I had noticed the distinctive fa├žade of Greenhouse on St Georges Terrace on a number of my coffee travels, and by Friday I could resist no longer. While there was a bit of a line going on, it was moving quite quickly. I ordered my usual skim flat white, $3.50, and since there were a few other people waiting, I ducked into the nearby Woolies to grab some yoghurt, and returned just in time for my keepcup to reappear on the counter.

I started the new week with coffee from Ristretto in Central Arcade, and although I still had a few more places I wanted to try, I was fairly confident this was the one. This tiny hole in the wall, is a bit out of my way, but the service was great, the turnaround was quick and the barista liked my keepcup! But most importantly, the coffee was really good. Strong but not bitter, and just the right amount of milk. ($3.50 for 8oz.)

Tuesday saw FH Alphie and I have breakfast at No. 44 King St, and you can read my review here.

By Wednesday, I'm on a bit of a roll as there hasn't been a terrible coffee since Thursdays airport incident. I had noticed Zucca, on St Georges Terrace a couple of times, and FH Alphie also noticed it and thought I should give it a try. After ordering, $3.80 for a 8oz, I stepped back, ready to begin the wait. I was pleasantly surprised, despite being quite busy, the service was quick & friendly. My string of good luck continued, the Zucca coffee well rounded, not bitter, and just the right amount of milk.

Very early in the Perth coffee search, I was also taken out for coffee at Mini Espresso in the London Court, which at the time I thought was pretty average coffee (and I assumed that the large size was what had been ordered for me), but upon comparison I realised that was some of the better coffee in Perth.

The verdict
Ristretto and Greenhouse will probably become my regular haunts.
I can see Shots Espresso Bar and Mini Espresso becoming fall-back options, for those days when I can't be bothered to detour via St Georges Terrace.
No. 44 King St and Greenhouse are likely to become my CBD breakfast options.

-Alphie

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

No. 44 King St, Perth

Firstly, I'd like to apologise for my lack of posts of late. FH Alphie's family have been in Perth, so between family dinners at FSIL's and strange concotions cooked up in my tiny hotel kitchen, there hasn't been alot to blog about. FH Alphie's family has returned to the east coast (except those that live here of course!), and he is now in Perth for a week, so I'm hoping the blogging opportunities present themselves a bit more often now.

Since I am working, and FH Alphie is on holiday, we went out to breakfast this morning before I went off to work. I have been searching the streets of Perth for a decent coffee (more on that later), and have walked past No. 44 King St a couple of times while searching out a particular recommendation.
When FH Alphie suggested we go out for breakfast, it was the first place that came to mind. Every time I have walked past it has been full with young professionals catching up, or maybe conducting business, over coffee or breakfast.

We started with coffee, because FH Alphie couldn't decide on breakfast. The coffee only comes in one size, however it was about the size I felt like (FH Alphie would have preferred a larger one). The milk was 'well frothed' (FH Alphie's comment - can you tell he worked at a cafe throughout uni?), and the coffee was smooth and strong. However, it was just a bit too milky - FH Alphie was glad he didn't have a larger coffee, because he didn't think he'd be able to finish all that milk.


Smoked Salmon, poached egg & hollandaise sauce on a pesto potato cake

Once we ordered, we ended up getting almost the same thing! I went with the Eggs Florentine, and FH Alphie had the Smoked Salmon with a poached egg & hollandaise. FH Alphie thought that the pesto potato cake, while tasty, was a bit too soft for its purpose, and he kept loosing bits off his fork.

Eggs Florentine

I found the hollandaise a bit vinegary, and If I'm to be really picky, a bit too thin, although FH Alphie said he preferred the hollandaise like that. Otherwise, the Eggs Florentine were fab. The eggs were perfectly cooked, served on two generous slices of house made bread, and more than enough spinach.

The good food & good coffee, combined with the fact they have hard-to-find east-coast newspapers The Age and SMH (albeit a day old) for customers to read, means I'll probably be back, and I might even become a regular!

Off to dinner with FH Alphie, FSIL & her friends tonight, before Florence and the Machine!

-Alphie

Friday, August 6, 2010

Macaron Mayhem (aka Macarons, take 1)

I spent the weekend with my sister, Ms Red, who lives in Bunbury (about 2 hours south of Perth, for those following from the east coast). The plan was to have a baking bonanza. She wanted to have a second attempt at melting moments, after she confused custard powder with cornflour in round one. And I wanted to have a go at macarons. They have been popping up everywhere lately, most notably with Adriano Zumbo on MasterChef, and I've been meaning to have a go, and work out what all the fuss is about - are they really that difficult?

The short answer is, yes. Mine were not a complete failure, they taste good, and I've got the filling down pat. But they most definitely did not have that macaron signature hight, known as 'legs' or 'feet', nor did they have a crisp, crunchy shell. So (at least) another attempt is required!

Example 1 - a perfect macaron

Example 2 - my macarons

I used this recipe from taste.com.au for the shells, and the filling was based on this recipe, from Gourmet Traveller. I had some trouble with the shells recipe, I ended up using another 3 egg whites, just to get a reasonably wet mixture - there was no way I was going to be able to combine all that almond meal with 5 egg whites!

I'm currently chasing a better macaron recipe (what's that saying? 'A bad tradesman blames his tools...'), and I hope to have another go, with better results soon.

-Alphie

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Burger Bistro, Perth

The end of my first week (well, half-week) in Perth arrived, and my WA-dwelling sister was driving to Perth to collect me for the weekend. Once she had navigated the one way streets of Perth's CBD and found a park, I convinced her to stop for dinner before we started the drive back to Bunbury. Burger Bistro is about 2 blocks from the hotel I am currently staying in, and I had a read about it on Vogue Forums. The idea being that burgers (albeit, gourmet burgers) would be a quick dinner before the return drive.

Belle of the ball

I went with the belle of the ball, a beef burger with field mushrooms and tomato relish, simply because it had mushrooms (I looooove mushrooms). While my sister, let's call her Ms Red, had the chickpea chow down, a chickpea, zucchini and carrot patty with sour cream, because, well, she always gets a chickpea burger.

Chickpea chow down

The burgers were huge! I decided to cut mine in half so I could get a better go at it, and it backfired, I ended up with mushroom juice and relish dribbling down my arms. So while delicious, the burgers are quite hard to eat. Ms Red did the same, and while she didn't have the same issue as me, the chickpea patty was quite squashed by the time she'd finished cutting it. And, (call the doctor!) she was unable to eat all her chips as she was too full, so I had to finish them for her...

There was a huge selection of burgers, each falling under one of three categories; chicken, beef or 'other', which includes the vegetarian options (there was also a lamb and a chorizo option when we were there). There were also the obligatory sides; chips, and two salads. All burgers come on a sourdough bun, although they can be ordered 'no-carb', to be served as a salad.

That concludes my first WA post, and there are more on the way (I have a bit of a backlog at the moment).

-Alphie