Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Avoid it: Bucking Bull

Below is an excerpt from what I posted on the Bucking Bull feedback form, under their question "What could we do better?"

You could try cooking your meat, particularly your rissoles, all the way through. I ordered rissoles and vegies yesterday for an early lunch, and the rissoles were quite obviously raw for much of the middle. I would estimate they were cooked only a quarter of the way through from each side, leaving fully half of the meat uncooked in the middle. I returned the uneaten rissoles to the counter, where the lady who had served me agreed immediately that the meat was uncooked. She initially offered to provide something else instead, or a refund. Unfortunately she couldn't provide a refund, apparently only the manager can do that, so offered an alternative meal instead. I thanked her but advised that I'd lost my appetite. She took my name and number to provide to the manager today, when she would be in. I ate nothing before nor after this meal yesterday, and had some unpleasant time in the toilet barely an hour later.

Fast forward to a quarter to 10 this morning when the manager called me and proceeded to deny that the meat could have been raw, and if it had then it was the fault of the supplier. I advised that I had returned the uneaten portion of the meal to the store, where her staff had looked at it and immediately agreed with my complaint, before throwing those rissoles and the ones still on display in the bin.

While I did not return the food intending to ask for a refund, only to advise the staff of the problem, I do not particularly care about getting a refund. However offering other food when what was bought was not cooked thoroughly isn't necessarily the best option, at least in my case. I also do not appreciate having someone question my integrity, especially when the staff member on duty was shown the problem and agreed with me.

Since I'm typing, I will also add that the food from the bain marie was not hot. Lukewarm would be a generous description.

In short, what could you do better? Cook your food thoroughly. Don't make your customers ill.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Lazy Lasagne

 I don't blog all that much any more. You know, in case you hadn't noticed. Life is moving along, as it does, and frankly most of my energy for the past 2 years has been spent just trying to get by. But enough about me. I actually cooked this evening. Yep, that's right. Despite my entirely uninspiring kitchen, and my woefully crappy stove and oven, I cooked. Amazing.

It may not be an authentic Italian lasagne (actually, there's no doubt, it's definitely not), but it's tasty and filling, has ingredients you can usually keep in the cupboard for ages, and relatively quick. Remind me to share my "proper" lasagne with you one day.

A slug of olive oil
1 leek, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed (or 3, or 4...)

Cook these up in a pan over high heat

100g diced bacon (or in this case, some triple-smoked ham I had in the freezer)
250g veal mince
250g pork mince

Cook until mince is completely browned. Switch on the oven to 200C or 180C fan-forced

2tbl tomato past
1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
1/2 can water
a decent shake of dried oregano

Stir it around, then let it simmer while you turn your attention to the sauce. If you're too lazy to make proper bechemel, give this ago. Combine:

500ml (2 cups) milk
1 packet white sauce mix
1 packet cheese sauce mix

Whisk over heat until the sauce thickens.

Place a sheet of lasagne on the bottom of a half-size (ie. rectangular) casserole dish. Spoon in a layer of meat, then top with another lasagne sheet and repeat until either you run out of meat, or your dish is 3/4 full. Place one more lasagne sheet on top of the last layer of meat, then spoon or pour in the white sauce mix. Top with grated tasty cheese, maybe a little reggiano, maybe some mozarella. Place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until the pasta is cooked and cheese nicely browned.

Once it comes out, leave it sit for a few minutes.

And there you have it. As I said, certainly not authentic, but it's tasty. I think even better the next day.

Even so, it's not particularly pretty, is it?

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Un-boring Bangers & Mash

It's certainly been a long time between posts. What can I say, my energy and attention has been diverted elsewhere.

But anyway, I wanted to share last night's dinner with you. Not in a "come on over and chow down on the leftovers" kind of way, just to tell you about it.

To me, there's just something about having sausages and mashed potato for dinner sometimes that really appeals, particularly when the weather is a bit colder. Don't worry, I'm not going to tell you, step by step, how to cook sausages and mashed potato. But I am gonna suggest a few things.

1) Use really good sausages. Not cheap yucky stuff.

2) Don't just make boring old regular gravy: try this, to feed 2 hungry people. Dice a tomato and an onion. After you've mostly-cooked the sausages move them to a plate and keep them warm. Put the tomato and onion into the pan with a clove of crushed garlic and saute until the onion softens. Then add a splash of dark mushroom soy, a splash-and-a-bit of Worcestershire sauce, and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Stir it all around a bit. Mix two tablespoons-full of gravy powder with a cup or two of boiling water and whisk to get rid of most of the lumps, then add that to the pan too. Stir it all around. Cut the sausages into big chunks and add them to the gravy, then let it all simmer till the gravy thickens.

This picture REALLY doesn't look appetising. What you're not seeing is how thick, dark, and yummmmmmmmmmm that gravy is.

3) Don't just boil then mash/puree the potatoes. I steam mine with a sprinkle of Vegeta on them, then mash them chunkily with a fork and a slug of warm milk, butter melted into the milk, a little more Vegeta, and whatever else I think will make a tasty addition. Even a little grated cheese. Mmmm, cheeeeeeese.......

4) Don't forget to have a thick slice (or two) of soft, fresh bread on hand to sop up leftover gravy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Melbourne Parliament House

Spring Street, East Melbourne, Victoria 3000
P: 03 9651 8911

Towards the end of last year, several of us ladies in the office decided to go for High Tea at Parliament House, which is an easy walk from the office. I fully recommend it, it was lovely.

While we were there, a couple of us then decided to hitch a lift on a guided tour of the building. There was much it didn’t take in, and we couldn’t go into the senate at all, however the guide told us an awful lot of information on the history of the building and the people who’d spent their working lives in it. Below are a sample of some of my favourite pictures from the tour.

Entry hall. Pictures of past big-wigs in Victorian politics surround the walls. I love the soaring spaces and high ceilings in this building.

So hard to believe how many volumes there are in this room. They have everything in them.

I got into trouble trying to take this picture! I just wanted this shot, with no-one in it, but the guide wouldn’t leave me alone for the 3 seconds it would take to do it (because she couldn’t leave people unsupervised or somesuch). I did eventually manage it, however she gave me the frowning of my life. The irony is that, once the tour was over, I went to the toilet... and could have wandered right into this room unsupervised. Go figure. I just wanted the picture.

Just one of these chandeliers would go a nice way to paying off a good chunk of my mortgage. I can’t remember all the details around them, but I think all up they cost, or are worth, nearly $300k.

The library. It’s not open to the public. I love the old vs. new feel of it. See the old staircase and the bookshelves? See the mouse in the bottom right corner? We weren’t allowed to move from a tiny area in the middle of the room, which is a shame as I’d love to explore it more fully. Sadly, I think the only way I could do that is to join Victorian politics, and frankly I’m too honest and nice for that!

According to the website, public tours are conducted on weekdays when Parliament isn’t sitting, and leave more or less hourly from 9.30am. See the calendar on their website for more information.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Nash Gallery & Cafe

212 Ipwich Street, Esk, Queensland 4312
P: 07 5424 2424

I realise it was a while ago now, but in my defence I DID have an entire post typed up, then lost it due to being scatter-brained.

On New Year’s Day mum and I decided to go for a drive. We thought we’d meander up to Somerset Dam and, by lunchtime, had reached Esk. We figured we were hungry, so looked around for somewhere to eat. Nash Gallery looked interesting, so in we went.

The cafe is set up in an old Queenslander-style house and, although it’s not air-conditioned, the design of the house meant that the temperature inside was still quite pleasant. We decided, however, to take a table on the verandah. Lovely white tablecloths, with butchers paper over the top, and a pot of crayons to play with are dotted around. There’s something on the menu for nearly everyone, and we quickly decided what appealed to us the most.

I went for the bacon pie. Back at school we used to get this regularly, but never to this standard. This was delicious. Possibly a touch too much pepper in it for my liking (given that I’m not a fan of pepper at all), but still full of flavour. It was a VERY generous serving. The chips were lovely too – crisp on the outside and all fluffy in the middle, and the salad was perfect – crisp and fresh, with dressing on the side so you could add as much or as little as you wanted.

Mum ordered the salmon quiche. This was also very good, although mum said it was a touch over-cooked – probably due to being reheated for serving.

Both serves were a generous size. So generous, in fact, that we couldn’t even consider anything from the sweets case:

We did, however take a bag of rum balls with us when we left.

The cafe doubles as an art and craft gallery. There are plenty of creations on display for sale, and if I had the $$ I would have happily purchased several. There are also posters with information on the area, and the house itself. I found it all quite interesting.

It also has disabled access – a ramp up the side of the house provides wheelchair access, and the toilet (one only – unisex) is well set up to accommodate people with movement challenges.

The scenery around Esk is lovely –with Mt Esk looming over the town there are some great sights. If you find yourself in the area around morning tea/lunch/afternoon tea time, give the Nash a go.

Oh, and of course I couldn’t resist the temptation of those crayons, so left a short message for the owners. I even managed to convince mum to write something!

I’m a regular Picasso, yes?