Sunday, February 27, 2011


For our first anniversary, we took a trip to Melbourne to have others cook for us for a change! After a delayed and stressful Tiger flight, we arrived an hour and a half late and had missed our Friday evening reservation, so had to go searching for a late night eatery. Not knowing Melbourne's late night scene well, we headed across town as far as we could go to the recommended Mexican restaurant, not sure if we could handle hearty burittos, and stodgy black beans. The food we received in Mamasita was a far cry from that! This late night taqueria is authentic Mexican, not the tacky Tex Mex we're more familiar with in Australia, and the plates of soft tacos were perfect for our late night snack. We had a variety to taste: braised veal tongue and ox cheek, where the meat was so tender and tasty, chorizo with a spicy kick and juicy marinated prawns - perfectly cooked and delicious flavour. The service was outstanding (particulary contrasted to the Tiger Airline customer experience we'd been subjected to earlier in the evening) and although we didn't brave the long tequilla list, the sangria and Mexican beer lifted our spirits and kicked off a great weekend.

We had been hoping to make it to Josie Bones, Chris and Julia from MasterChef Season 1's beer bar and nose to tail eatery, but we have to pay that a visit on our next trip, since we managed to juggle our Movida Aqui reservation and secured a table on Saturday night despite being a no show on Friday. Movida Aqui is the 3rd member of Frank Zamora's Melbourne CBD tapas restaurant family. We followed the waiter's recommendation and stuck to the tapas menu this time. We need to go with friends next time to be able to order the large serves of amazing looking paella. The tapas, raciones and specials were more than enough to tickle our tastebuds.

Anchoa - Anchovy with smoked tomato sorbet
We started with the Anchoa, a dish that Frank Zamora demonstrated during his slot at MasterChef Live, substituting strawberry sorbet for the presentation of the dish! We were excited to taste the real thing, and it was an interesting combination of cold, salty and crunchy. Delicious!

The jamon was a must have taking me back to my days in Spain, and the Bomba, the chorizo filled potato ball, which Marion prepared on MasterChef to beat Zamora for the immunity pin, was tasty. One of the highlights for me was the Tortilla de Cangrejo - fresh mud crab in a tortilla (Spanish omelette). It was light, fluffy and flavoursome.
Vieira - Scallops with salmorejo, fried almonds and cauliflower
The Vieira, grilled scallops were delicious. We found it served with a few too many almonds, but a perfectly prepared scallop always makes for a tasty dish. I can't get passed the way the salmon roe literally pops in my mouth, so I loved it!

Perhaps the dark horse of the evenings selection was the Cordoniz con Kikos - Grilled Jumbo Quail filled with duck liver parfait, served with sweet corn puree and toasted corn. The combination of the crunchy toasted corn, the smooth duck liver parfait and the tender quail meat was a real taste sensation and a balanced, delicious end to a fabulous dinner. So tasty, we wanted to savour the lingering flavours and couldn't fit another thing in, that we passed on dessert!

Friday, February 18, 2011

M(i)s Ch(i)ef™'s Month of Meals

M(i)s Ch(i)ef™'s Month of Meals by A M(i)s Ch(i)ef™ compilation of recipes by Michelle Elliott | Make Your Own Book

I was so excited to hear that my lovely friend Tracy was inspired by my meal planning and had decided to try it out with great result. She was enjoying the variety and that she didn't have to think each evening of something to concoct from the ingredients in the fridge! However, unlike me, she didn't have enough recipes to choose.

I decided to make her a cookbook! At first I considered the recipe journal, but the printing and cutting and gluing of recipes sounded like too much of a craft project so I explored the online world and found the perfect site: - an online book creator. My recipes were not original (you'll see I attributed them all to their original source), but all came from my weekly meal plans and I wanted to make it as simple as possible for my friend, a mother of twins with one on the way, so I compiled enough for a month of meals to be followed in order to give the dishes each evening variety and balance if you followed the book all the way through. It was so fun remembering, finding my favourites (mainly from and ordering them how I would plan my weekly menu!

Next step was to compile them all into a Blurb book which was easy with their simple to use and format software. I put together my cover and there it was - my first cookbook ready to serve!

Blurb printed and shipped my book and Tracy received it with delight yesterday!

The cool thing is that I can share Tracy's book with you! If you are inspired to try it for a month, you can order a hard copy for yourself on Blurb, but equally you can leaf through the pages right here!

Wishing you a delicious month of yummy mouthwatering meals and watch out for more!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Way to a Man's Heart.....

I take the proverb very seriously and it was even in our vows that I would continue to plan great menus for the week and cook gourmet meals for my husband when we wed a year ago. For our first Valentine's Day as a married couple I picked Cam's favourites and created a special Valentine's Menu.

One of Cam's preferred Italian dishes is gnocchi, and after the My Kitchen Rules WA girls created lovely "soft pillows" for Pete and Manu, I wanted to do the same for my hubbie. I chose another of his favourites, prawns, and for entree prepared Bird Cow Fish chef, Alex Herbert's Potato Gnocchi with Sauteed Prawns in a Burnt Butter Sauce  in the first season of Masterchef. I bought a potato ricer for the occasion (from one of my favourite shops which has everything a wannabe pro cook could need, The Chef and the Cook in Camperdown, NSW)

The gnocchi dough was surprisingly easy to make with the help of the potato ricer and I realised the importance of "mis en place" as I came to cook the dish. Everything only took a few seconds so I was pleased I'd taken the time to get everything ready and next to the stove top by the time I threw the gnocchi in the boiling water, and the prawns in the frypan.

The next course was Cam's all time favourites: duck. Duck is typically quite a rich meat and being summer I wanted to choose a lighter course, so the duck was served with a warm salad: Duck Salad with Red Wine Dressing. It was a delicious main, full of flavour with a delicious watercress and beetroot salad, with potatoes crisped up in the duck fat.

Cam not being a big dessert fan, but a lover of our homemade ice cream, I chose to prepare a challenging (for me) dessert, something that I'd not tried before - Mocha Souffle with my own Coffee Mallow Ice Cream.. I was very impressed with myself that the souffle rose and that the ice cream went so well with it! A light but delicious end to an amazing Valentine's Day meal.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

King Fish Flop

I am normally pretty successful in the kitchen and when I follow recipes, they are usually a fantastic hit at best and a mediocre meal at worst. Last night I felt well and truly defeated by a mere chargrilled piece of fish!

In our typical summer mid week style the menu consisted of a crispy green salad and cumin seasoned king fish cutlet with coriander salsa: easy as! I threw together the salad, zapped some spring onions, coriander, chilli, garlic, lime juice, sugar and fish sauce together for a delicious salsa and seasoned the fish with some cumin seeds.

My favourite pan from my Anolon set is the char-grill pan which I use often, so I'm far from a novice with the equipment. I let the pan heat up and put the fish cutlets on for a few minutes each side. At first I thought that the heat wasn't high enough so the flesh was getting a bit soggy. I turned them over and as they started falling apart so did my pride! Oh well, not a picture perfect dish... When it finally made the plate it looked like a boney mash potato! What had I done!? It had a mushy and chalky consistency and was one of the first inedible things I've ever made! The cutlets went into the bin to be replaced by a trusty can of tuna :-(

Pride hurt and unsatisfied I decided to investigate, as I am never one to admit defeat! Turns out that it wasn't all me! There is a parasite called Kudoa that makes king fish mushy, or milky as is the correct term! The description I found online was "as if it's already been digested!" Just shows, every day and every dish can be a learning opportunity!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Risotto Risk?

Risotto has a developed a bit of a bad name for itself! It's the downfall of many a reality show cook or chef, from MasterChef home cook contestants and Hells Kitchen hopefuls to even the Top Chef All Stars! It's also misunderstood: a dish made of left over rice from yesterday's curry with a few peas and can of tomatoes thrown in it is NOT! It does however, make an appearance in all my favourite magazines and cookbooks, enticing me to the challenge.

The best Risotto I have ever had was a few months ago in Venice, a seafood risotto at Ristorante Al Giardinetto da Severino. We were alerted to a longer than usual wait, but we were in no rush, so we happily enjoyed the fabulous garden restaurant with the sights and smells of the famous Venetian institution. And wow that risotto was seriously worth the wait!

It was with this last experience in mind that I went into my attempt to conquer this infamous dish! I opted for mushroom, as I found a nice recipe from George Calombaris in one of my MasterChef mags.

Mushroom Risotto, MasterChef Magazine, Issue 4, p 34
I first  boiled up many mushrooms to make my stock, and about an hour later I was ready to start. It took a little while longer than I expected for the stock to all incorporate in to the rice (longer than the 25 mins we had to wait in Venice) but I managed to plate up a great risotto for a first attempt. The rice wasn't stodgy, but moist and succulent and the mushroom flavour was delicious.

Watching the comments from Tom Colicchio on Top Chef All Stars the other day, perhaps I could have left it a little more runny as it might not have spread on the plate to his and Anthony Bordain's liking, but I was impressed by my first attempt and have removed my risotto reticence and added it firmly to my repertoire!

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