Sunday, September 20, 2009

Slingshots again...

Here's just another reason why I shouldn't breed.... hehe....

Sharing: Girls with Slingshots

One of my favourite things to while away time on the net is to catch up with Girls With Slingshots. Recently I decided to go back to the beginning and read from the start.

Not sure how many of you know, but when I was not even 1 year old I was given a teddy bear, whom I named Fred. I still have Fred.

What do these two pieces of information have in common? The other day I came across this instalment, and it sums up my life with Fred pretty damned well, although you might need to read some of the earlier strips to really understand what it's all about, but in a nutshell, Hazel got a cactus, turns out it speaks. Yeah, maybe a little weird, but hey, I get it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Oyama Japanese Restaurant

Shp30/ 115 Cathedral St, Fortitude Valley 4006
P: 07 3257 0738

When Vicki suggested Oyama for dinner we were more than happy to go along with that - especially since I'd never had the teppanyaki experience before! I'm not sure if I was disappointed or relieved when there was a minimum amount of food-flinging... either way it was a tasty experience.

First course: salad. Cucumber, tomato, nori, lettuce, with a dressing that tasted of sesame.

Nothing can compare to the sashimi presentation of Shoya (with its carved ice bowl), but even so this plate looked good, and the sashimi was beautiful. Kingfish remains my favourite, but the tuna was also divine, the salmon lovely, and the scallop you can see at the front topped with yummy popping goodness was bloody nice too.

While we'd been eating, our chef had been heating and preparing the hotplate. These scallops were cooked with butter and minced garlic. They're actually the first cooked scallops I've ever eaten! Very nice.

Another first for me: lobster. Pieces were thrown on the hotplate and cooked with a little more of that particular type of mayonnaise. Where it had caramelised slightly was drool-inducing. The flavour of the mayonnaise reminds me of a marinade I do for chicken sometimes... although mine is dijonnaise-based.

Here was my first challenge of the night. Prawns. These were done the same way as the scallops, with a dollop of butter and plenty of garlic. The taste was delicious, but as always the texture just turns me off (I had much the same problem with the lobster). That being said, that's my problem - the course itself was great.

See this baby? Seared on both sides, perfectly cooked throughout, it fell apart with the barest encouragement from my chopsticks. It was topped with a dollop of mayo that had been heated separately on the hotplate.

One of the things that did get flung (is "flung" a word? I somehow don't think so... but if you fling something in the past tense, what do you do?!) was the egg for the fried rice. Thankfully I caught mine. Vicki caught hers. John was... not so lucky :) Watching our chef prepare the egg before adding the other fried rice ingredients was amazing. Unfortunately he added a touch of MSG to this dish which didn't play nice with me later. Ah well, it was worth it! Once he'd dished it into bowls they also got thrown at us, to catch in a second bowl. I'm pleased to report 100% catch rate on this one.

This little delicacy wasn't actually on the menu, but the chef was quite happy to whip it up for us on request. This was my second challenge of the night - fried prawn heads. Y'know, I actually quite enjoyed them... until a leg stuck itself into my gum, then into my tooth... But yeah, all the great flavours of prawn without the texture that I don't like. Now if only I could get that served with sans legs...

Final course - fruit! Considering the rather crap fruit platter John and I had had the previous night at the Casino, this was a wonderful improvement! I love finishing my meal with a few choice pieces of fruit to sweeten my tastebuds and give my mouth a cleaned feel.

There are a few options for the teppanyaki, ranging from a $48 menu to the $88 one we had. The only difference is the more you pay, the more courses you get! There's also an a la carte menu. Staff are friendly and polite.

Next time I'm northwards I think I'll be heading this-a-way again.

Banana Cake - revisited

Do y'all remember the banana cake I made a little while ago?

Making it again tonight, but substituting honey for the sugar. I wish you could smell my house right now... Anyway it's quite yummy. To make the substitution, leave out the sugar and throw in about 85g of honey instead. Then reduce the amount of milk by a smidge... and if all else fails, before you spoon it into the pan make sure it's the right consistency by adding either more milk, or a touch more flour. Decrease the temperature to 165C, and cook it for a bit longer.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Santini Family Restaurant

Shop 2/102 Watton Street, Werribee 3030
P: 03 9742 3977

Well, I've been to the places on either side of Santini, so it wouldn't really be fair to not mention the place. Then again, maybe it would be fairer if I didn't...

I mean, when the restaurant each side of somewhere is rather full, but that particular place is rather... empty... well, that's a sign, right?

Things started out quite well, with a very yummy garlic pizza entree. Bloody nice, actually.

Things continued moderately well with the antipasto platter. Except for the prawns and the smoked salmon... and the calamari was a touch tough...

But this - this was what completely turned me off the place. We both ordered porterhouse steaks: mine medium with a dianne sauce, his well done with a peppercorn sauce. First problem - steaks came out with the wrong sauces: medium with peppercorn, well done with dianne. I mean, come on, why don't people seem to bother writing down orders any more? But then, once we'd swapped plates so we at least had the right sauces I noticed something... if THAT (not the one pictured) was a porterhouse steak cut of meat, I'll eat a raw oyster (NB: those things disgust me). It looked more like a de-boned chop. Either way, neither steak was all that appetising. That said, the mashed potato was fabulous. Shame we had to pay for the rest of the stuff on the plate.

So yeah, if I was after a few garlic pizzas I'd drop in to Santini again in a heartbeat, but for anything else, well, I think I'll give it a miss. Particularly when the options on either side of it are so much better.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Ciao Pizza Napoli

43 Hardware Lane, Melbourne 3000
P: 03 9670 1110

On the spur of the moment we had decided to meet up for lunch. I thought, as we'd be in the area, it would be a great opportunity to try +39. Turns out we had a little trouble finding it (or were too hungry to try very hard), so wandered up into Ciao Pizza Napoli instead. It seems that was a pretty good thing. But you know, even though they've been there since 1988, I can't say I've ever really noticed the place before. Shame on me.

The antipasto (above) was great, but hey, stick 3 different flavours of meat on my plate and I'm a happy girl. Along with the rocket, cheeses, artichoke and olives, as well as the bread we were provided, it was damn good.

There's a nice range of pizza's, ranging from the traditional Margherita, through to the more exotic Duck with Asian Greens. We decided to share a (large) pizza, so I chose half Rustica, half Artichoke. The artichoke pizza was very nice, but the rustica blew me away. Delicious. It's rare for me to get through more than 2 slizes of "pizza" from somewhere like Dominos, but I had no problem clearing away half of this baby. And I've never seen John eat that much, so it must have been good! The other dishes we saw wafting past our table also looked great - pasta's and a range of other choices.

Despite warnings from my stomach that it was in some danger of reaching critical full levels, we had a look through the dessert menu. Somehow "sharing a dessert" got turned into "one each" when the order was placed. Huh, men, they never get it right! What you see above is the baked custard with caramel sauce and poached pears. Oh yum.

I had the sticky date pudding with sticky sauce and a side of ice cream. I'm going to make a pretty big call here, and it might not be well-received by some relatives, but... this was on par with my mum's sticky date pudding, IF NOT SLIGHTLY BETTER (sorry mum). Despite my full stomach, and the huge size of this wedge of pudding, I ate the damn lot. I couldn't help it.

We're planning to go back one night for dinner. I can't wait.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Mum's Famous Chocolate Slice... but different

So, what do you do when you are going to visit friends, you want to bake some of your mum's chocolate slice to give them, but one is gluten- and dairy- (and possibly egg) intolerant? Why, you modify, of course!

I made a trial batch of this and took it into work today to foist on my colleagues. 100% of the feedback I got was positive, with one person also asking for the recipe. Ahh, the power of my mum's chocolate slice is awesome. Hehe, at school I used to trade my morning tea of chocolate slice for muesli bars and roll-ups. I know, crazy, huh? But I always had home-made stuff cos we couldn't afford the other things, so of course what did I want?

Anyway, here's the modified recipe. The original calls for wheat flour, butter, and egg in place of the modifications I made, and I had to do more than just substitute ingredients - I had to change the way it was prepared a little too. Many thanks to Cindy for her advice on egg replacement products: you gave me much more of an idea of what I would be dealing with.

Chocolate Coconut Slice

1 cup almond meal
1 tsp bicarb soda
2 tbl cocoa powder
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
125g good quality oil
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 (heaped) tsp Orgran no-egg, mixed with 2 tbl water

Preheat the oven to 170-180C. Line a slice tin with baking paper, with paper extending up two sides.

Stir the almond meal and cocoa together, then stir in the sugar. Make a well in the centre, add the oil, vanilla, and no-egg mixture. Stir to combine. Add the coconut and stir. It should resemble cake batter. If it's too runny, add a little more almond meal.

Press the mix into the slice tin, evening it out and flattening the top. Bake 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin until completely cooled.

Top with chocolate icing (mix 1 cup icing sugar with 1 tbl cocoa, then slowly add hot water until you have the consistency you want).