Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Harambe - Ethiopian

There are a few suburbs in Melbourne where migrants comes from Eastern regions of Africa (e.g. Sudan, Erithrea and Ethiopia) settled. One of the suburb is Footscray. Here there are several Ethiopian restaurants. On a weekend, we went to one of our favourite, Harambe, which is at the end of Nicholson Street.

Harambe has an interesting setting, with thatched roof and a decor that virtually transport you to a cafe in Addis Ababa.

We ordered a sampling of traditional Ethiopian cusine consisting of vegetable and meat side dishes and entrees (see photo), i.e. wot, a thick stew,  and minchet - a spiced minced meat stew.  The dishes are served on top of Injera, a large sourdough flat-floppy bread. These are served in a large brightly coloured enamel pan, which is shared by all around a table. The food are first served in small bowls of different size and shapes, brought to the table on a trolley, they are then served (or poured) on the big colourful enamel pan. No cutlery is provided, it is a usual custom to have your meals with hands. This is what the Western culture probably missed when food are eaten with fork and knife, i.e. the feel of the food, the texture and warmth. You will notice that Ethiopian do not serve pork or shellfish, as they are forbidden by their religion, which is Islam, Jewish or Ethiopian Orthodox Christian.

To complete Ethiopian experience, we finished off with a glass of Ethiopian 'Dashen Beer'.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Breizoz - French

We tend to associate French cooking to a more formal and elegant dining. Here at Breizoz, a french creperie tucked at the shore front of Williamstown, you can savour some galettes in an casual and relax setting. The creperie is housed in a former missionary centre with a little 'chapel' behind. If you like to have your galettes alfresco, you can have it in the courtyard in the middle of the creperie.

The photo above is the galettes that I ordered (I know...I know.. it is ugly, looks like a p____ ,but it is delicious). It is a galette with black pudding and onions. There is quite good selection on the menu, you can have your galette with cheese and eggs, praline, or seafood, etc. When I ordered this combo, Catherine who took my order said,' You're my type of man'.

Galettes are French pancakes or crepes made from buckwheat flour. Galette is an essential food to the French who lives in the region of Bretagne,  north-west of France. Since my first visit to Breizoz, I have been making galettes at home.

Try some of their refreshing cider, which certainly go well with the galettes.

The creperie, is run and owned by a chef, Jean-Marie Blanchot (on the right) and Catherine (not in the picture).

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Paella - Spanish

The Paella is a traditional dish from Spain. It is basically short-grain rice cooked in stock with a selection of fresh seafood, i.e. mussels, prawns, squids, scallop, fish bits. We also add in some chorizos, porks and chicken.

As an alternative to BBQ, we cooked a Paella on our 4-ring outdoor gas burner. A large pan of Paella can cater for quite a big number of guest. We like serving the Paella in the middle of the table and let the guest scoop whatever they like from the pan. It's kind of communal feasting.

In Melbourne, there is a Spanish quarter along the Johnston Street, Fitzroy (annual Spanish festival is held here too).
There are several Spanish restaurant, e.g. Spanish Club, Kanela, etc., There is also a Spanish grocery, Casa Iberica (25, Johnston St) where we picked up the ingredients and cooking wares required for the Paella.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Spiced Duck with Pears - Spanish

Catching up with my cousins who lives in Melbourne, we cook them a dinner of baked duck in Spanish style.

The duck pieces are baked for one and a quarter
 hour. Then caramelized pears and the Picada sauce are added to the tray and baked for another fifteen minutes >

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pollo alla Cacciatore - Italian

This is my first attempt at cooking this classic Italian dish. You will always find this dish on the menu at most Italian restaurant. There are so many variation and interpretation of this dish, which present a challenge to cook one and see how it will turn out. I pulled out several versions from the net and try to figure out what is common in this dish. Cacciatore means hunter, therefore the chicken cook in Hunter's style. I suppose any bird with bones on it, cooked with Italian herbs sauce falls into this category of dish.

Well, the dish turned out good with rounds of compliments from the family. 

The next day, I consulted my colleague, Monsieur Rousseaux, whom I always share my culinary adventure; he reckons it is more like the French 'Coq Au Vin' (Chicken cooked in Chasseur sauce), especially with the amount of mushroom I put in and the absence of tomatoes, and a few other ingredients he thinks is essential to the dish, like olives and anchovies (to add some sharp taste to it). Point taken for my next round of Cacciatore!

1 x
1.6kg Fresh Chicken (preferable Free-range) - cut in 8 pieces, i.e. two legs, two thighs, two wings and the back cut in half.
2 tblsp Extra Virgin Oil
1 large Onion, sliced
5 large brown mushroom (or white mushroom whichever is available), sliced
3 sprigs of Parsley, chopped
3 stalks of Oregano, chopped
3 cloves of Garlic, crushed
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Half a cup of White wine - that you would drink.

Wash and pat dry the chicken, marinate with salt and pepper In a frying pan large enough to accommodate all the chicken pieces, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Brown the chicken parts a small lot at a time until all have been browned. Remove from pan and put them aside.

With the oil still in the pan, add the onion and garlic and saute, stirring until transparent. Return all the chicken pieces to the pan and
stir well so that all the pieces are well coated with the sauce in the pan. Add the Parsley and Oregano. Stir well.

Pour the half cup of white wine over the chicken and mix the ingredients well. Continue on medium heat allowing the wine to evaporate ('reducing it'). When the sauce has thickened, add the mushrooms (should provide more moisture), reduce the heat to Low, cover and cook until done, 30-60 minutes, until the chicken are tender. Serve with rice.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pumpkin Pasta with Rosemary - Mediterranean

On a lovely Spring day at Yarra Valley, we came across a cut piece of Musquee De Provence pumpkin, deep orange in colour. We brought back the small piece of pumpkin and worked out how we can prepare a meal. We found this recipe on the net by James Martin, BBC Food, and cook ourselves a nice dinner. The pasta, from Calabria, southern coast of Italy has been sitting in our larder.

We modify the recipe with healthier options, i.e. we left out the butter and double cream, instead substitute with enough olive oil and 150ml of light cream. More generous amount of garlic and shallots. We use the fresh herbs (parsley and rosemary) from our garden.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ariana, Sahar & Pamir - Afghan

One of the interesting suburb in Melbourne is Dandenong City, about 34 km or 35 mins drive from CBD. Here along Thomas Street, there are several good restaurants where you can sample the traditional food of the Afghan. The ones that I frequent most is Sahar and Ariana. I have yet to try out Pamir, which is further up the street. Afghan food are very close to food in Northern India and Pakistan as they share the common border. Their food is quite spicy and usually accompanied by pickles and yoghurt. Most of the dishes are eaten with the Naan bread.
I have dropped in on several occasion to have my meal there. On one occasion, I packed lunches on our way to the Sorrento beach for a picnic and swim.