Monthly Archives: September 2012

RIVERFIRE

We hadn’t seen some lovely friends of ours in forever, so when we were invited to have dinner and drinks with them last night for Riverfire (a huge city party with fireworks synchronized in three places, helicopters and fighter jets, music and food), we couldn’t say no.

Oh yeah. They live on a boat. On the river (as opposed to all those skyscraper boats).

 

 

 

 

 

We muddled our way across town, avoiding first the Southbank fenced off area, which had security guards checking bags for alcohol (and we had beer), then taking the long way around the City Gardens via QUT because the river path had been closed off due to Parklife festival. We were rowed out to our friends boat and, after finding our sea legs, settled down for an amazing night with a perfect view.

 

 

 

At 7pm, the fireworks started. We were positioned perfectly to see everything. I’m not usually a big fireworks fan, but I was totally in awe of the beauty and fun of the fireworks this year. Normally, there are people lining the banks of the City Gardens (you can see the bank empty in the photo above with my friend rowing back to shore) but because of Parklife, it was quite quiet. You know, except for the fireworks noise. You could feel the rumble easily on the water.

Perty.

 

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FROM SCRATCH

So I have to start with an apology as I haven’t posted since about Wednesday. This is because of some super-fun I was having in my car, involving rear-ending a lady, then being rear-ended whilst waiting for the tow truck. It was a brilliant Friday. Let’s pretend it didn’t happen and I’ll catch up shortly with all the posts I had planned.

I had so much fun Wednesday. Not just because I visited a friend and her gorgeous toddler, not because it was just after said friend’s birthday and I brought her raw almond and coconut cake and a jar of tomato relish, not just because it’s holidays and roaming the streets of Brisbane is a lot of fun. Because I got to cook something entirely new AND it worked out first time. Whoa.

I made parmesan polenta batons with homemade aioli and tomato relish.

It was actually quite easy and, true to my style, done cutting many corners and over several days to make it super easy. I’m going to put tomato relish is a separate post, because it’s a preserve and therefore not made on the day. You can use a store bought relish or chutney if you prefer. Just buy quality so you’re doing the recipe justice!

 

 

 

 

 

The polenta was made on Tuesday. Now, I don’t make polenta too often, but when I do, I use Matt Preston’s recipe that I snipped out of the paper a couple of years ago. His recipe is for a wet polenta served with a sausage and mushroom sauce (I used vego sausages) and fennel salad. DeVINE. But as everyone who frequents wanky yet glorious cafes knows (and I sure do), your can “set” polenta, cut it up and grill/fry/bake it in wedges, sticks, or whatever shape your imagination wants (hmmm… I have a flower shaped cookie cutter. Maybe next time).

1. Make your polenta (in advance).
INGREEDIENTS:
2 litres chicken stock (I use a vegetarian chicken stock)
20g butter (or margarine)
100g parmesan
Salt and Pepper
3 cups of coarse polenta (not instant)

I had less polenta than the recipe advised, so this time, I reduced everything on the list by 1/3.
Heat your stock in a wide, heavy-bottomed pan. When it’s hot but before boiling, whisk the stock so it forms a whirlpool and pour in the polenta in a fine, steady stream. Keep whisking. You’ll find you slow down quickly as polenta is THICK.

Keep the pan on low and bring to boil. Cook the polenta, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon, until it starts to coagulate and swell up.

Make sure it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan (mine does no matter what I do and is a bastard to scrub off, but never seems to actually burn). Polenta spits when being made, so have the lid and a cloth handy (and wear an apron if you have one. Plus, cooking in an apron is cool).

Now, at this point, Matt Preston’s recipe says it’s ready when it pulls away from the side of the pan (it looks like you’re cooking play dough), but mine does that from an early stage. Polenta usually takes 20-30 minutes to lose its “uncooked” taste, so I try it after 20 minutes and again after 5 if I need to. Taste it. That’s the best way to know.
Stir in butter, parmesan and salt and pepper. Use the best quality parmesan you can find. Because I don’t make polenta too often, I often justify going to the Swiss Deli on Boundary Street, which sells cheese and a plethora or fascinating cooking ingredients (as well as the best packet felafel mix I have ever eaten). They had an Italian and an Australian parmesan the day I went, but the Italian was over $40 and a good $9 more than the Australian cheese. I went Aussie. One day, Italiano, one day.

When the polenta has cooled a little, squish it into plastic containers of your choice, press down firmly and chuck it in the fridge. I made 3 square containers from this recipe. One went in the freezer and two stayed in the fridge, ready for last night’s goodness.

To serve, flip your plastic containers and turn the polenta out onto a board. Cut into desired shapes and thickness. I like fairly thin batons of polenta, because I love the crunch you get when you back them. You can brush with a little oil or do whatever works for you to avoid sticking, and put them in the oven (I don’t DO oven temps for experiments, only baking. I think it was one 180C). Turn once or twice so all sides brown. They’re ready when they’re heated through and at your favourite crispy level. My crispy level is about an 8/10. What’s yours?

2. Aioli
For three years, I was vegan. I loved being vegan, and still eat and make a lot of vegan food. I love the clean, lightness much vegan food has, often with a less “gluggy” after feeling. I went vego again when I was studying again, as my stress levels were making me crave all sorts of things I just didn’t have time to make the vegan-ised version. It’s funny, because before I was vegan, I didn’t eat eggs and rarely ate cheese- only grilled on pizza really. I thought when I finished studying that I’d go back to being vegan, but by then I was hooked on cheeses my mother never thought I’d eat in a million years.

Eggs, however, still freak me out. I do a lot of baking without them and find their sulphur smell quite repelling. Everyone told me that making cakes with eggs would be an easy way to eat eggs if I wanted to, but I really love vegan cake alchemy. I ate a boiled egg from time to time and then at Lock and Load (oh local of locals) discovered two things: kick ass shoestring fries with garlic aioli, and poached eggs. Turns out, I like both.

I found this recipe on the superb Melbourne food and cooking blog Cook (Almost) Anything.
They used smoked garlic, but I used a clove of roasted garlic that I had chucked in the oven a couple of days before when I was cooking something else.
Here is their recipe and link:

SMOKED GARLIC AIOLI
1 egg yolk
1 clove, smoked garlic
sea salt flakes
finely ground white pepper
125mls neutral oil (not olive oil)
lemon juice

Take a clove of garlic and slice it finely. Sprinkle over with a few sea salt flakes and using the flat of your knife, mash the garlic with the salt flakes. The flakes are abrasive and will turn the garlic into a paste.

Place the egg yolk, the garlic paste and a dash of ground white pepper into a bowl. Whisk this mixture until combined.

The next part decides whether your aioli or mayonnaise will work out – it’s the addition of the oil. It’s important at the beginning to really just add a drop or two at a time until the mixture starts to thicken – you can then drizzle it at a steady pace while you whisk.

Once all the oil has been absorbed keep whisking until the mixtures looks glossy – add a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice (or a white wine vinegar if you prefer) and whisk briefly. Give it a finely taste and adjust any of the seasonings as desired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Store this in the fridge in a sealed container.

Serve all this up with polenta batons and tomato relish. Eat quickly, as if you are sharing, you may end up in a fight over the last baton and bit of aioli.
This aioli was good the next day in sandwiches as well!
Try it, totally worth it.

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RAW ALMOND AND COCONUT CAKE

I have been meaning to make this since I found it at Fragrant Vanilla Cake. Amy, the writer, is a raw cake genius. Her presentation skills alone make it worth having a look at.

One of the lovely things about making raw cakes, is that they often have few ingredients (so are really easy to share from memory). They are also great to make on hot days as there’s no need to turn on the oven. This is gluten free, dairy free, egg free and, if you change the sweetener, vegan. But it’s high in taste.

 

 

 

 

 

I made this yesterday because my sister came over for dinner. I was going to show you my yellow nutty noodles with broccolini, but it didn’t come out how I wanted it. Ben and my sister liked it, but I want to work on it more before I share it.

So, cake.

INGREEDIENTS:

1.5 cups almonds (soaked in water overnight and rinsed) (if you live in a warm area and want to soak your almonds in the fridge, DON’T put them in the section of the fridge that freezes everything [pictured]. Sigh).

1.5 cups dessicated coconut

3 tbls honey (or golden syrup if you prefer a vegan cake)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp sea salt

DO:

It’s pretty simple. Chuck it in a food processor and buzz it all up. Scrape down the sides if you need to (which you will need to do at least once to remove the honey from the processor bowl). If you have a small food processor, like I do, then you may want to do this in 2-3 batches. I found myself spooning out the less ground up mixture in the top, putting it aside, finishing the part on the bottom, and then swapping it over. I may also halve the recipe next time, as this made a lot of cake. I wanted a fairly flat cake, so I also made cake balls out of some of the mixture.

Hmmm. We’ll work on that.

To make a cake shape, you need a tin or plastic container. This doesn’t need the over, so just put it in whatever shaped container works for you. I used a plastic container so it could go straight into the fridge without fuss. To make sure it came out again in one piece, I put a tiny amount of veg oil in the container and spread it round, then added a spoon of coconut to the container and shook that around until it “lined” the container, much like one would grease and flour a cake tin.  It worked perfectly. Press in as much mixture as you want. Use your hands, a spoon or a glass’s bottom to press in firmly. Chill in the fridge 1 hour+.

And the result? Well, I think my excellent photography speaks for itself- it looks like moldy bread’s cousin. BUT it tastes really good, and we served it with Greek yoghurt, which had a great tang that worked with the dry coconut sweetness. It’s served here with honey and cinnamon as well.

I think the brown Pyrex really brings out the flecks of almonds (ok, so I’m working on crockery. This will take time!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amy at Fragrant Vanilla Cake iced hers with raw cashew icing. If you’d like it to look pretty, I’d try that. In the meantime, I’m eating some of this for breakfast.

What? It’s just like muesli.

Sort of.

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FOOD PORN

Three cheese fettuccine (cheddar, Australian parmesan and blue vein) with simple green salad and balsamic vinegar

Poached Egg on Roasted Sweet Potato. Idea from My New Roots (see Blogroll)

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I HEART PADDINGTON (except for the blisters)

So we went to Paddington yesterday. I didn’t post about it at the time because when I got home I was suffering from shopper’s affliction. No, not credit card fever (I rarely suffer from that), but fatigued feet. Sore soles. Tired tootsies. That’s what I get for wearing unbroken-in pixie boots across town on foot.

The Jacarandas are out

It’s not my fault, not really. I blame the atmosphere of Paddington. In West End, my stomping ground, one can go down the street and into most bars in pyjamas and if you have a bold smile and a friend, no one cares too much. This is not an exaggerated example. I have seen this happen and he was wearing thongs with his stripy PJs. Paddington is, well, a great place for suits and upper class white women. It doesn’t have the hipster vibe- a little eco grunge, a little pretending there’s no money- it has the crisp, well organised look of serious retail. Despite my funds not matching the expected demographic, I love Paddington.

It started when I moved in next door as a student at Red Hill, Paddington’s poor cousin. We (my superb housemates and still great friends of mine) were only a 15 minute walk away from the most expensive Woolworth’s in Brisbane (and quickly discovered that Ashgrove was better on a student budget and on the bus line) and some amazing cafés. But I digress. A Paddington afternoon consists of several things:

a)      Sensible footwear choice, whilst still looking half decent so shop assistants talk to you

b)      A short argument with Ben about why he should go with me (promises of coffee and beer)

c)       Said coffee and beer

d)      Moaning about feet on the long walk home.

To a West Ender, Paddington is a 45-60 minute walk away, depending on footwear, weather and handbag weight. It’s a lovely walk over the bridge and past Suncorp stadium, but keep it simple and carry water. This ain’t no Westfield walk in the park ladies, this is shopping boot camp. You’re gonna be tired, you’re gonna want your mummy, you’re gonna walk further than you’ve ever walked in nice shoes before, you might cry when Maiocchi doesn’t have your size left and you’re certainly going to want sunscreen. Oops, this just turned into GI Jane…

Ok, onto more important things. I guess I’m not talking about street locations because Paddington just has one: Latrobe Terrace. Head off Latrobe and you discover well renovated Queenslander houses perched on the sides of THE most disgustingly difficult hills to walk on. We got there and promptly wanted coffee, so tried somewhere different for us and popped into Eurovida. I have a friend who loves to go here for breakfast on the weekend. Her thoughts were “You pay too much for breakfast anywhere. Why go to Coffee Club for $45 when for $55 you can get an amazing breakfast?” For us, Eurovida is almost sacrilegious as it’s just across the road from Fundies, an amazing organic café attached to a health food store called Fundamental Foods. It’s seriously one of my favourite places in Paddington and deserves its own post sometime in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

Paddington shopping is based around two sections of Latrobe Terrace. The lower section, which is the section that runs from Suncorp stadium to Given Terrace and the upper section, which runs almost up to Bardon, the next suburb over. If you walk, choose an end and do a big lap. Beginners should park! The shopping is stretched out over this long piece of road because Paddington is largely residential. Lower Paddington has some old shopfronts, many of which are lovely cafés and shops, but upper Paddington had shops in converted Queenslanders, so your shop may have a front yard and footpath up to the front door.

In lower Paddington I discovered a two places that’s been there for a while but have never had the chance to go to (promises of coffee and beer don’t always work and it’s a long walk by myself!): Olive and Olive women. The first is home and kitchen wares, the second is clothing. Both are full of colour and texture and are huge fun to look at. We hope to move over the next few months and I WILL be back to purchase a couple of the (poorly shot) photo hangers, which would look great with the high ceilings at the new place.

Maiocchi and Witchery are also places we like to drop by. Maiocchi is beautiful Asian and floral prints with bold colours and clean lines. I have two Maiocchi skirts, they’re some of the most expensive purchases I’ve made, and I don’t regret either one bit, as I wear them constantly and still get lovely comments from people. Witchery is located in a Queenslander and has menswear as well (yay for Ben). The lady serving us said she often gets people coming in saying “I used to rent here”. The shop, although yes, belonging to a big chain and therefore perhaps not of interest to all Paddington shoppers, has regular sales, huge changing rooms and a much more relaxed atmosphere than the shopping centre or city Witcherys.

My weird find on Lower Latrobe was a gorgeous bathroom place with a chatty and lovely owner. We talked about decorating and she approved of my (intended) colour scheme for our next place. Ben even came in, lured by the giant shower heads which he plans to install at our next place. Hmmm… if there’s an eco-version by then…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upper Latrobe.

Sassafras from room. Another Queenslander Conversion.

We needed a pick me up at Sassafras. Ahhh Sassafras. Anyone who knows me knows I love Sassafras to the point where Ben and I had our wedding reception there. As a student, I used to come here with my house mates regularly and came by myself about once a week for a semester, to study and draw (huh!) and eat scramble tofu on sourdough and drink a pot of T2 chai (or an iced chocolate; They used to line the glass with melted chocolate which would then solidify from the cold milk. Bliss). Although meat is served, we had a 100% vegan wedding reception here in their “backyard” which was relaxed yet very professional. Love it. Be prepared to line up on weekends if you don’t have a booking.

Although we walked right up past the “Trammie’s Corner” park and back down the other side, weariness was getting to us and we went into fewer places. Back on the other side of Lower Latrobe, there are about three clothes shops closing down with great deals ($5-$30) but they either had so few clothes or so little room in the shop, that it wasn’t pleasant and we moved on quickly. I got a call from my mechanic that my baby (perhaps toddler? He is going through the Terrible Twos) was ready to pick up, so we had to leg it quickly enough to get back across town before they closed for the evening. The nail in my foot health coffin.

So what did I get out of my marathon visit? A new top (Ben got jeans), nice coffee, pretty photos and the determination to bug some of my girlfriends to go back with me next time. Paddington ain’t no shopping place for a man, you need a real woman.

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BRISBANE FESTIVAL- LIGHTS SHOW

So I’ve been down to the lights festival a twice now, once with Ben’s friends and kids and once with some mutual friends of ours. It was still a lot of fun the second time around.

The lights show is part of the Brisbane Festival night entertainment. There are also extra food stalls and bars set up in the Southbank Parklands (as if Southbank doesn’t have enough food to offer!). A huge number of Briswegians I know have moseyed down over the last week to have a look. Apparently it doesn’t really compare to other international light shows, but I’m easily amused by shiny, flashy things and thought it was pretty.

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STREET CHIC – September

So whenever I have the courage to approach strangers, I hope to post some Street Chic- outfits and people that are interesting, beautiful and different. I’m not necessarily looking for cutting edge fashion, I just love to see people showing their personality and style through their clothes. This is a positive space only and although we are all entitled to our opinions, negative posts that could make the model feel bad will not be tolerated.

First ever Street Chic: I loved Lucy’s hat partnered with the red dress.

Lucy at the Lock n Load, Boundary St.

Tres Chic.

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CHOCOLATE HIT!

Think chocolate can’t be good for you?

Wrong.

One of my post work out smoothies:

Banana (chuck it whole in the freezer before you go. The longer you work out, the more frozen it is)

1 tsp Honey

2 heaped tsps Raw Cacao

Protein powder (optional)

1 cup of milk (I used soy, but plan to make my own nut milk these holidays)

Local, organic honey tastes a million times better than supermarket stuff

Raw Cacao is not heat treated like cooking Cocoa. It is HEAPED full of more antioxidants than goji berries, green tea, and all the usual antioxidant superheroes. There is an element in cacao that inhibits calcium absorption, so consume in moderation.

 

This smoothie is a great post workout drink. Not everyone will want protein powder, but I’m recovering from some injuries so I add it. A more natural alternative would be spirulina, but it WILL turn your drink green (and can be an acquired taste).

 

Chuck it in the blender. Drink it.

So, so good.

 

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WEST END STREET PARTY

Saturday Arvo.

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