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Piggy ingenuity…

18 Apr

Strolling through Whole Foods the other day, my most favourite supermarket in the world, I came across an amazing phenomenon… get ready for it… some of you may want to sit down…

Dark chocolate with…BACON!!!

Could this be the greatest day of my life?  Did chocolate/bacon angels hear my prayer?  Has my world been altered forever?  Yes, yes and yes!

Chocolate/bacon sensation

Unwrapped chocolate/bacon sensation

The little specks visible in the chocolate are the tiny-iny miniscule bacon bits.  The bacon bits really serve as a little kick of salt against the sweetness of the chocolate, in that salted caramel kind of way.  And it works a treat.  It’s not dissimilar to Lindt’s Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt.  However, if I am being completely honest, Lindt still has the better tasting chocolate component, now they just need to work on getting the bacon in there.

My fat, little pink friends were looking out for me on this particular day, because I also found the cutest chopping/cheese board in the world!  On the same day!  In the same supermarket!  What had I done to deserve this bottomless well of luck?!

Cutest chopping board EVER! $20 Whole Foods

 

Till next time…

this little piggy…xxx

A sauce-less pasta…

14 Feb

So feeling inspired the other night to flex my invention muscles, I decided to try my hand at replicating a restaurant favourite…

Recently I blogged about a little gem of a restaurant called Little Dom’s (in my post “Keeping it real”) and my obsession with their Rigatoni with House Made Sausage, Fresh English Peas & Ricotta.

Well, I found myself last Friday night in the mood for a bit of apron time, with a little bit of wine, a little bit of new music (cue First Aid Kit’s new album “The Lion’s Roar”) and a confidence that I could smash out the same taste-sensation pasta mentioned above.

Now for those who know me, my lack of modesty here will be nothing new, and for those who don’t, get ready for some unashamed trumpet blowing… but wow wee did I come through with the goods!  (yes there was lots of patting my own back… literally… my right hand reached over my left shoulder and went pat, pat, pat)

It was an absolute winner and super duper easy to make, and the husband gave it the double thumbs up too!

So here it is…

SAUCE-LESS SAUSAGE PASTA (serves 4)

INGREDIENTS:

5 x cloves of garlic, chopped finely

6 x fleshy anchovies, chopped finely

1 x teaspoon of red chilli flakes (or to your own liking)

1 x cup of frozen peas

1 x cup ricotta cheese

6 x good quality, pork sausages chopped into 3 cm pieces (I used pork bratwurst sausages and cut each sausage into four pieces)

Olive oil

Cracked pepper

Rigatoni or Penne

METHOD:

1) Cover a small non-stick frying pan with olive oil (4-5 tablespoons), and heat over a medium flame.  Add chopped garlic, anchovies, chilli flakes and cracked pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring (make sure you don’t burn the garlic or chilli).  Turn off heat.

2) In a separate non-stick pan over medium heat, add the chopped sausage pieces, browning all over and cooking through.  This usually takes around 20-25 mins.

3) Bring a small pot of salted water to boil and add the frozen peas.  Cook for 3-5 mins, then strain and set aside.

4) Heat a large pot of salted water and add your rigatoni or penne (cook to your liking)

5) Add the cooked peas to the garlic/anchovy/chilli mixture and warm through on low heat.  You may find that you need to add some more olive oil, just make sure the peas are well coated.

6) Add the cooked sausage pieces to the peas garlic/anchovy/chilli mixture and stir.

7) Once pasta is cooked to your liking and strained, add the sausage/pea mix to the pasta.

8) Portion into bowls, sprinkle over ricotta cheese, and serve.

Pork sausage pasta

Enjoy!  Let me know how you go….

Till next time,

this little piggy…xxx

Winter holidays…

17 Jan

Sam and I have just had the most brilliant time during the last two and a half weeks while we holidayed with relatives in Canada and New York over the Christmas and New Year break.  Yes it was absolutely FA-REEZING!  So so so terribly cold that at one point whilst walking a New York street and complaining of my “ice-cream” headache (with not an ice-cream in sight people!), Sam realised he could no longer feel his chin.  And after much poking and prodding of said chin, we had both summed up that yes it had gone completely numb thanks to the arctic temperatures and it was probably best to find ourselves a nice warm diner to thaw out in.

But for Sam and I (and most Australians), sub zero temperatures like these and snow in the streets during winter, is such a whacky and wonderful phenomenon that frozen chins and all, there ain’t nothing that’s going to ruin the novelty of the experience.

And aside from mastering the art of ice-skating (picture below), what else was there left for us to do but our most favourite thing in the world… EAT!  We ate a lot of food, drank a lot of plonk and played a lot of word games like Bananagrams and Catch Phrase!

So many fantastic culinary experiences were had on this holiday that we lost count!  So I have highlighted two of our favourites…

First stop Toronto: SWISH by HAN (http://swishbyhan.wordpress.com/)

My fabulous cousin Mira and resident Toronto local recommended this modern Korean restaurant to us.  Swish by Han is the brainchild of two Korean-Canadian-American food loving brothers Leemo and Leto Han.  Their philosophy is to present traditional Korean flavours – and without bastardising any particular dish, they believe that food can “marry interracially” so to speak.  So what you have at SBH is an exciting and contemporary Korean inspired menu, demonstrating that there is so much more to Korean cuisine than the common Bibimbap.

First up, Spicy Pork Neck Tacos $10

Spicy Pork Neck Tacos $10

The following two dishes were absolutely to die for.  Super fresh, bursting with flavour and cooked perfectly.

Thinly sliced, slow cooked beef $18

8 hour slow cooked beef, charred on the board with spicy salad $18

Grilled Pork Belly “Ssam” set $15 – this means the pork is accompanied with Kimchi, lettuce and rice, and you  go about stuffing all the goodies into the lettuce leaf, in the quantities you desire.  Sooooo good.

 

Next stop New York: LA ESQUINA – Brasserie (http://esquinanyc.com/)

Sam and I had the pleasure of eating at La Esquina back in 2006 when it first opened, and were completely wowed by the food , location and decor.  So impressed were we with our first visit, that we felt compelled to return this time round.  And once again, not only were we not disappointed, we were simply blown away!  Again!

For all you Melbourne Mamasita fans, La Esquina is where it all began.  And if you ever find yourself in NYC, do yourself a favour and book a table at this super duper impressive restaurant!  La Esquina has everything going for it.  From the sneaky set of stairs and passages that lead you down through an Alice-like maze through the kitchen, round a few bends, past the ridiculously well stocked underground tequila bar (and when I say underground, I mean that literally…you are now underground) to an intimate table in a dining room basement setting that leaves you feeling very clever with yourself for even knowing that such an establishment exists, to the friendly staff and delicious Mexican food… La Esquina doesn’t put a singe foot wrong!

La Esquina - Brasserie

Now how is this for a feast!  This visit, Sam and I had the following:

PEPINO DIABLO cocktail – Tanteo Jalapeno tequila, cucumber, agave nectar, fresh lime $14.00

Pepino Cocktail $14

COSTILLAS DE PUERCO Charred Chipotle-Guava Pork Ribs, $11.00

Charred Chipotle-Guava Pork Ribs, $11.00

The following Taquitos $10 each

PESCADO char-grilled market fish, red  onions, salsa verde

COCHINITA PIBIL slow-cooked pulled pork, pickled onions, habanero

Taquitos $10


CHILE PIQUIN GRILLED CALAMARI Calamari, Smoked Chickpeas, Roasted Tomatoes, Lime Citronette $12.00

Calamari $!2

CAMARONES A LA PLANCHA grilled gulf shrimp, butternut squash, spanish chorizo, cherry tomatoes, chayote $22.00

Yummy prawn stuff $22

And lastly, as we just didn’t order enough food…

ELOTES CALLEJEROS grilled corn $4.00 (The waiter even offered to cut one piece in half for us, but us piggies wanted a piece each)

Corn goodness $4

Sigh.  Am nostalgic for the food already.

Till next time,

this little piggy…jxxx

Vampire pumpkins…

30 Oct

So today saw Sam and I attend our first ever Halloween Pumpkin Carving Party!

It was a labour of love from the beginning.  A trip to the supermarket saw us agonise over which pumpkin to get – What was the best size?  Shape?  Too orange?  Not orange enough?  Tough questions for two novice pumpkin carvers like ourselves!

Finally, after settling on what we thought was the best pumpkin and not knowing what to expect, we came to our shin dig very well prepared (thanks to Sam’s art department background and my virgo-ness).  Armed with a stanley knife, a leatherman, a kitchen knife and three different sized spoons, we sat down and got to work.  Well, Sam got to work while I watched and cheered him on.

We very quickly decided that our pumpkin actually harboured a deep-seated desire to be a vampire – so it was out with the Jack, and in with the Eric.

And here it is!  The making of…. Eric the Vampire Pumpkin!

Cutting his brain

Opening up his brain

Revealing his brain guts

Getting rid of his brain guts

Working on an eyeball

All carved! Introducing Eric the Vampire Pumpkin!

Family portrait

Eric at home - keeping watch by the front door

Happy Halloween y’all!

this little piggy xxx

Getting cosy…

24 Oct

Two weeks ago, my husband Sam and I landed in Los Angeles.  One week later we found ourselves a beautiful little sublet cottage in the Hollywood Hills. As we both love to cook and had both begun to feel the onset of homesickness as a result of being away from our well stocked kitchen in Melbourne, we set about making ourselves feel at home.

Purchase number 1… Aprons!

I found myself this gorgeous little 50’s inspired apron from store extraordinaire Anthropologie.

Everything from their measuring spoons to butter dishes to ceramic egg crates is detailed, beautiful and affordable.  Well worth a look:

http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/catalog/category.jsp?pageName=Kitchen&popId=HOME&navAction=top&navCount=0&pushId=HOME-KITCHEN&id=HOME-KITCHEN

And luckily for Sam, not one for being left behind, during our meander through the Studio City Sunday Farmer’s Market, we stumbled across a fantastic little stall run by Cattle Headquarters.  Here we found some aprons made from old flour sacks, with printed vintage graphics.  Sam couldn’t resist!

Cattle headquarters have many more great designs and an array of products including the above mentioned aprons, pillow cases, t-shirts and tea towels.

http://www.cattleheadquarters.com/

And finally…. to really, truly, 100% make ourselves feel at home in our L.A. digs… we simply had to buy:

Purchase number 2… Sodastream!

For those of you who know us, this purchase will be of no surprise.  For those of you who don’t, please know that neither myself or Sam have any affiliation with the product, but we love it so much we/I could go on and on and on about it till all the little piggies come home.  I think there is a misconception that sodastream involves sugary, syrupy drinks.  You can put flavours in it if you want, natural or otherwise.  But essentially, its a bubble maker.  So if your household is sodastream-less and you’re as obsessed with sparkling water as I am, here is my plug:

1 – bubbles on tap!  bubbles on tap!  bubbles on tap!

2 – you’re reducing waste – nothing to lug from the supermarket and nothing to throw away

3 – the sodastream bottles don’t have the BPA plastic nasties and you can even get glass ones

4 – 60L gas cylinder makes around 60L of delicious bubbles

5 – you know what you’re drinking, we fill ours with filtered water

6 – you can choose how much bubblefication you want – super bubbly or just minimal bubbles

7 – when you’re out of gas, you swap the empty cylinder for a full one and only pay the cost of the gas refill

Seriously, do yourself a favour!  http://www.sodastream.com/

And on that note, my glass is looking a little empty… best I go and get me some soda!

Till next time…

this little piggy xxx

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