My summer of salads on Paleo

Just at the end of October last year, there was one word everywhere. Paleo. People were talking about it, people were on it, I was reading about it and boy are there so many blogs about it. A friend was in my ear about it and her sales technique was rather effective; “You can eat meat, chicken, seafood, fruit, vegies, nuts and seeds. But no wheat, added sugar, carbs or dairy.” Seemed simple enough and it was. In the 6 week lead up to a day dedicated to my love of pudding, custard, ham, turkey, mince pies and basically the kitchen sink, Mr ELG and I committed to the Paleo diet. If you’ve read any of my past posts, you will know I am not one to diet (apart from the 21 day wonder diet pre wedding). Food is just too damn good to give up which is why I believe this Paleo diet does wonders for me and Mr ELG. By Christmas day, I was minus six kilos and Mr ELG was looking damn fine having shed 12 kilos.

I am proud to say that Christmas day lived up to all of my foodie fantasies and travels thereafter took me to Melbourne where I was eating fresh grilled lobster and sipping champagne on new year’s eve, to Main Ridge where I was plucking plump strawberries off the vine, to Balnarring where I was chowing down dried fig and gorgonzola pizza at Ciao Bella and finally to the Portsea pub where a glass of Paringa Estate Pinot Noir made me ever so thankful that I was lapping up my summer days; living to eat.

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So this week I am back to the grind, back to the rat race and back to Paleo. The silly season is over and the coast is clear, free from dangling carrots of snacking here and sipping there. It’s by no means a new year’s resolution because again I have no patience for those goals but I am resolute to be fit, be free, know tone and have boundless energy to run after a soon-to-be-terrible-two year old.

And so today and tonight has been coloured by my summer of salads. Sticking to the rules and guided by the refreshed energy of a new year; I feel like a kid with pack of pencils about to colour in way outside the lines.

Armed with a fridge full of fresh food, these are the last two salads I have whipped up from scratch getting rave reviews from Mr ELG and having him go back for seconds. And lastly, I hope you’re also enjoying a fabulous summer; living to eat!

Lunchtime salad

1 packham pear (chopped), 1 handful walnuts (chopped), 1/4 cup cornichons, 1/2 Spanish onion (finely sliced), 1/2 Lebanese cucumber (chopped), 2 cups rocket leaves, 1 handful grape tomatoes, 2 shallots (finely sliced), 1 x 300g chicken breast (poached and sliced), 1 handful continental parsley (chopped). Mix a dressing together of a good lug of extra virgin oil, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 heaped Tbsp of Dijon mustard.

Combine all ingredients and enjoy the lunchtime crunch. Serves 2.

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A salad for tea and throw in a barramundi too

2 x 250g barramundi fillets, 1 lemongrass stalk (white bit chopped), 1 handful coriander (chopped), 2 garlic cloves (crushed), 1 tsp fish sauce, 1 Tbsp Tamari sauce, juice of 1/2 lime, 1 Tbsp olive oil. Combine all ingredients in a zip-lock bag and marinate for 30 minutes.

1 mango (diced), 1/2 red capsicum (thinly sliced), 2 cups baby spinach leaves, 1 handful grape tomatoes, 1 shallot (thinly sliced), 1 Tbsp sesame seeds, 1 Tbsp Tamari sauce, 1 Tbsp lime juice, 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Combine all ingredients.

Pan fry barramundi for a couple of minutes on each side. Skin should be crisp and caramelised. Serve with salad and sprinkle some extra sesame seeds on your barra before serving.

Chiswick

I have been wanting to book a table at Chiswick since I heard it had opened on the old Pruniers site in Woollahra on Ocean Street. So this week was my second wedding anniversary with Mr ELG and Chiswick was the location of course to go to celebrate.

I lived in Centennial Park for a number of years and often drove past the low, flat, white building where Pruniers used to be located. Set a bit back from the street and surrounded by tall, elegant palm trees; it always stood out for me in amongst all of the nearby grand mansions on Ocean Street. Many months ago, I heard that Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan were building a new restaurant on the site and with their experience and combined savoir faire in the food industry, I was more than intrigued to discover what the result would be.

And on Tuesday night, I was not disappointed.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again; Sydney is fickle and rarely loyal to its restaurants. So many new ones pop up every month and barely last the distance with only a handful defying the odds. I think Chiswick will rise above and emerge as the latter. Chiswick has forged its beginnings as a “neighbourhood” restaurant with a well-stocked garden onsite providing its kitchens with crisp seasonal produce. A gorgeous fountain greets you as you walk up the pathway and into the restaurant. It’s a Tuesday night, the day after Easter Monday and at 8pm, this restaurant is booming with no signs of any looming financial crisis on its second wind. The big kitchen is open for customers to see directly in and right beside it, a long “shared” table full of chatter and laughter is busy with different patrons enjoying their food and plonk.

We are shown to our table inside the main dining room and at once given some sparkling water on request and menus to start the night. Cecilia introduces herself and urges us to take our time reading through what’s on offer from the kitchens at Chiswick. Deferring away from the traditional three course meal, Chiswick offers an alternative tying in with its table sharing notion, of small plates to share. And as I pore over the menu, I see large lamb racks being placed on the table beside me as the table of eight get ready to all dig in together. After a little bit of discussion and advice from Cecilia, Mr ELG and I order the Veal Sliders x 2, the Kingfish and Steak tartare. A Crab and pea risotto and some of the Moran family beef will follow accompanied by a plate of hand cut chips. A friend of mine had been to Chiswick only days before and on her orders the Veal Sliders were a must, not that I knew at that stage what was to come! Mr ELG also ordered a divine French wine from the Rhone region and the celebrations were off to a great start!

As we sat there chatting, I looked around the room and realised that we have become such a food-forward bunch. With cooking channels taking over our television viewing, cook books topping the best-seller lists and cooking apps taking over our iPads, everyone around me including ourselves know what we want, want the best and are happy to pay for it. And then afterwards we chat about it, share it, pin it, tweet it and the excitement continues. The Veal Sliders arrive and they are mini burgers with brioche buns, tart tomatoes and gherkins and tender veal. Super tasty that I fight to savour the taste slowly over eating it so quickly to immediately enjoy! The Kingfish is a fresh pink and the lemon aioli is like a squirt of fresh lemon on your tongue. And the Steak tartare is heaven; finely diced with an egg yolk and such a memorable marriage of flavours.

Our mains come quickly and as we share these plates too; Chiswick is living up to all expectations.

The one thing that can often let down a restaurant like Chiswick is its staff as often they are too snooty and arrogant to realise that they’re not the patron but the one serving the patron. Tonight this was not the case. All restaurants need to have a Cecilia. Someone who is knowledgeable without being pretentious, someone who loves food and loves to eat it and someone that can smile and actually have a conversation.

Never to pass up dessert and on Cecilia’s recommendations and detailed break down of the plate; I ordered the Caramelia Eclair. When it came out, and I looked at the plate, I immediately thought I was looking at a photo of the woods. On the right was a log and on the left were some Autumnal leaves. On the right was actually the Eclair with a creamy chocolate filling and on the left were slices of poached plum with roasted almonds scattered over.

Matt and Peter, your neighbourhood restaurant is a winner and I hope you are paying Cecilia well because her effort was priceless.

Chiswick @ 65 Ocean Street Woollahra, NSW 2025

Published in: on April 13, 2012 at 1:07 am  Comments (1)  
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Easter bunny is almost here…

Three days before the Easter Bunny arrives and I am still busily planning my menu for Easter Sunday lunch. If you could just see my dining table…I have open Donna Hay magazines strewn everywhere, a Nigella cook book on the floor, Gary Mehigan’s book flipped open to his crazy delicious brownie recipe and a carton of colourful rubber eggs that I picked up from Bed Bath and Table; perfect for MM’s first Easter egg hunt on Sunday as I’m trying to be a good Mummy and go steady with his chocolate intake! I’ve definitely decided on a starter to get the palate salivating but deciding on what’s to come…wish me luck!

For a while now, I have been enjoying making goodies to give at Easter, just like at Christmas too when I made a big batch of my Gourmet Chocolate and Apricot muesli and bottled portions of it up in glass bottles to giveaway. The smiles from people who are on the receiving end are so much bigger especially when they realise it’s homemade! And so I add this to my Thursday madness as while I am not attempting to make chocolate eggs, I may be planning to make something gooey which involves chocolate of course and maybe a bit of peanut butter…I will keep you posted 🙂

And yesterday out of all of the chocolate shops in Sydney, I paid a visit to the one I love best – Scrumptious on Cross Street in Double Bay. Quite close to another love; Papier D’Amour and two doors down from an endless love; Simmone Logue, Scrumptious is just as its name describes…utterly scrumptious. It is a small shop filled to the brim (especially around this time of year) with so many goodies; both edible and ornamental that it’s an overload on the senses. The scent of chocolate is amazing and the collection that the owners, Nicole and Briar, have amassed of glassware, bunnies, biscuits, eggs, vases, birdcages and baskets is truly extraordinary. On this particular visit, I picked up bits and pieces to decorate my Easter Sunday table and of course some chocolate to top it off.

I must now stop procrastinating and make some important decisions as to what to cook so I wish you all a beautiful Easter and hope you spend lots of time with family and friends relaxing over this long weekend, eating lots of chocolate and also taking some time out for yourself!

Happy Easter!

Scrumptious @ 4 Cross Street Double Bay NSW 2028

Simmone Logue @ 2 Cross Street Double Bay NSW 2028

Papier D’Amour @ 8 Cross Street Double Bay NSW 2028

Published in: on April 4, 2012 at 11:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday night cooking

There is something about Friday night cooking that I’m not a fan of. I just opened the fridge, then the freezer trying to rumble up some inspiration to get the juices flowing for what to cook tonight but as always there was zilch, nudder, nothing.

Someone also made a comment to me during the week that there hasn’t been a lot of go and eat posts of new places on ELG for a while and with no excuses to offer you or reports that I have been in a cave due to hibernation (wrong season!), I honestly put it down to being a mum and having a small fry on the go. After too many stares from people when MM made a small shout during entree or having a fair few people trip over the wheels of the pram even though I have tried to shove it in the corner – I admit I have become one of those mums who just prefers to be at home for meal times, where MM can scream as much as he likes and leave the staring to Mr ELG and I .

But last Friday night, I put that all to one side and braved the outside once again to try my luck at Pizza Moncur…dinner for the ELGs in the heart of Woollahra. Diagonally opposite the Woollahra hotel and next door to the well loved Big Mamas, Pizza Moncur has suburb sophistication written all over it with its black and wooden design. A lovely French waiter pointed us to a table kerbside with plenty of room for MM and his stroller to sit on the pavement. The menu had both the usuals (four cheeses) and the unusuals and between the two of us, we had one of each. Mr ELG can not go past a Quattro Formaggi although I note this one had haloumi which is on the rare side and I chose a Mediterranean style consisting of red peppers, scallops, chorizo and chili jam.

Pizzas were served on a square black slate and the base is thin with texture with extravagant amounts of topping. Both pizzas were in one word; divine. Clear tastes, hot and crisp just out of the woodfired oven and the accompanying friendly service finished off the night. There were no stares from other patrons as MM was on his best behavior and as we ate piece by piece, we noticed that the restaurant also does a roaring trade of takeaway on foot and scooters delivering boxes to the door.

Hmmm and as the clock approaches 3pm, I am still wondering what’s for dinner tonight?

Happy Friday!

Pizza Moncur @ 101 Queen Street, Woollahra NSW 2025

Published in: on March 23, 2012 at 3:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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Just around the corner

It might be a sad and soggy day in Sydney with the forecast set to rain every day in March except the last three days but I’m happy. Because just around the corner is Deus and my favourite salad in the whole wide world that I love to eat…Smoked trout, kipfler potato salad with watercress, fennel, poached egg and hollandaise sauce!!
Happy Friday!

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Published in: on March 2, 2012 at 2:06 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sensationally Smitten

Happy Pancake Day!

OK I know I am 5 days late but we celebrated it all the same this morning in my kitchen with a sensational pancake recipe with inspiration drawn from Smitten Kitchen. I recently came across Smitten Kitchen after my ongoing search for the greatest birthday cake recipe…MM is turning 1 in April. In one of her posts, she boasts that she has found the recipe of all recipes when it comes to birthday cakes. When it comes time to baking the birthday cake, I will let you know. Another recipe that took my interest recently is the Chocolate Fudge Cake posted by Hostile Bacon. Miss Ren (of Hostile Bacon)and I share a love for a cake mixer and have had one or two discussions about the innocent Kitchenaid Stand Mixer and its all-reigning asset status in the kitchen…

So getting back on track with Pancake Day; the three ELGs were sensationally smitten. As usual, there was no rush to the corner shop so in PJs I used what was in the pantry so the original Smitten Kitchen recipe has been altered. The result was the pancakes were light, fluffy, golden and the mixture was easy to whip up and held itself together when it came time to flipping the pancakes in the pan. Mr ELG and I had them with the works; dusted icing sugar, squeeze of lemon juice, raspberry sauce and light drizzle of golden syrup. MM had them on his Bunnykins plate in an extremely watered down version. His pancakes were eaten bare but still woofed down all the same.

Apple and Raspberry pancakes

Ingredients:

4 small apples (I used Gala apples but any would do) peeled and grated

2 eggs – beaten well

3/4 cup milk

3/4 cup natural yoghurt

1 1/2 cup self raising flour

pinch of baking powder

1/4 cup caster sugar

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

To serve:

Dollop of apple and cinnamon natural yogurt

1 banana – halved and sliced lengthways

golden syrup

raspberry sauce (if not your own then Cuttaway Creek is the next best thing!)

half a lemon

icing sugar to dust

Method:

Combine wet ingredients and lightly whisk together in a small bowl. Combine dry ingredients and make a well in the centre. Add wet ingredients and grated apple; whisking it all together until just combined. Add cinnamon and vanilla extract and stir in.

Brush a hot pan with some butter so it is thinly coated. Add two large tablespoons of mixture and flip over when bubbles start rising to surface. Place slices of banana between two cooked pancakes and dress with remaining ingredients according to personal taste. Makes 8

Eat. Love. Enjoy!

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Published in: on February 25, 2012 at 11:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Post with the most!

It’s rare for me to write a post that ticks all 3 boxes but here’s a wrap up of yesterday…

EAT – to start with…oven baked sourdough and prosecco, moving onto fresh, clean tastes in salads such as  yummy Insalata Caprese with ripe red thickly cut tomatoes and creamy mozzarella slices, tuna nicoise salad with poached eggs, bresaola with rocket and shaved pecorino, cucumber ribbon, pine nuts and ricotta and warm stuffed eggplant. Pasta was next with a bolognese penne and a seared tuna and parsley orecchiette before mains arrived of seared swordfish with tomatoes, capers and extra virgin olive oil and crispy pork belly accompanied by lemon wedges and rocket. Dessert could not be forgotten and for Mr ELG and I, this was arguably our highlight….Eton mess with dollops of cream, fresh vanilla bean and plump sweet strawberries followed by a selection of cheese; both creamy and hard with pear and crackers. A cappuccino finished me off!

LOVE – family on hand to look after MM (BIT’s new codename aka Mini Mister), sharing a table with 14 closest and dearest pals over a long Sunday summer lunch where conversation flowed, laughter was bursting at the seams, yummy food was there to be divulged and life couldn’t be sweeter.

GO – Cafe Sopra above Fratelli Fresh on Danks Street, Waterloo Sydney. The private room where the Italian feast never stops.

Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Crunchy eating

Day 4 on detox and I realized today at lunch that there really is a lot of crunchy texture when eating foods on the “food you can eat” list. As there certainly is nothing one can describe as “creamy” although I am still dreaming of golden gaytimes and now creamy rice pudding has entered the dream!

Out and about on King Street in Newtown, 12.30pm had just passed and boy was I feeling ravenous. With oily chicken and kebab shops surrounding me, I wondered what else could satisfy my detox requirements and feel like a treat? Aaahhh, but of course – Vietnamese!!!

Rice Paper, on the Southern end of King Street closer to Sydney university opened nearly 6 months ago after the chef/owner had years of success in Strathfield. And I am now onto my second hand when counting how many times I have been since its arrival! It doesn’t help that it’s only a ten minute walk away from home but in a way, that’s also a comforting thought to know that damn good Pho and young Coconut drink is only ten minutes away! So today when I went in, knowing that today Pho was temporarily blacklisted, I ordered a Green Papaya salad.

As it was laid in front of me, I was immediately hit by the fragrance of the dressing. There was the scent of sweet lime, pungent fish sauce and notes of lemongrass. What a delicious treat!! As I took my first mouthful and crunched through the freshly grated granny smith apple, chopped peanuts and shredded carrot and slurped up the long strands of green papaya, a little part of detox-me was in seventh heaven.

Rice Paper as a restaurant ticks all the boxes for me. Clean, close, friendly service, reasonable prices and most of all, some of the best pho I have ever eaten. The bowl is big, steaming hot with broth that is rich and desirable in flavour. When I first took Mr ELG there, I remember his wide eyes after his first spoonful of Pho asking me why it took me so long to bring him here?!

3 days left of this crunchy eating…can’t wait for the cream!

Rice Paper @ 131 King Street Newtown NSW 2042

Published in: on January 12, 2012 at 10:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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Time for tea and no oranges

After 2 weeks of solid eating and no holding back for another golden gaytime, extra dollop of custard or another piece of cheese; it’s now time for tea and no oranges. In other words; I am on a detox. I have chosen the Quick Cleanse 7 day version and Mr ELG and I are on day 2. So far so good and no major headaches or withdrawals. To put it simply, it’s unlimited fruit and vegetables with oranges omitted, no coffee or caffeine-related drinks, no meat or chicken, lots of water and raw nuts, fish every second day, unlimited tofu and lentils and vitamins three times a day. Yes, I could do this without buying into the program, but at this time of year structure is welcome to get the body back into gear.

So last night in front of the telly when all I could think about was Lindt passion-fruit intense chocolate, I begrudgingly went and made myself a herbal tea. My only saving grace for the next 5 days.

Since having BIT, I have never consumed so much tea as I do now. I don’t know what changed as I still drink coffee (when not on detox) but suddenly herbal tea is no longer reserved for librarians and old ladies. I do have a preference for chamomile, peppermint and ginger and am still not swayed by the berry blends. When I was breastfeeding, a friend recommended the Weleda nursing tea and who knew if it was actually contributing to the supply, but I found it to be a supremely calming ritual at the time much to Mr ELG’s dislike who used to always comment the house smelt like Chinese medicine.

I took this photo of tea being brewed at Revolver Cafe in Annandale. A friend ordered peppermint tea and I love the way so much effort is put into one cup of tea complete with its own minute timer too.

And yesterday amongst all of the tempting madness in a shopping centre where I looked one way to see hot churros rolled in cinnamon or the other way to see chocolate ice-cream; I was a very good girl and took myself off to T2 to order a takeaway herbal tea. It was an iced Turkish Apple and Rose tea – all pretty with the rosebuds floating on top. And if I just closed my eyes, it tasted just like a golden gaytime! Don’t worry, I know I’m dreaming!

Revolver Cafe @ 291 Annandale Street, Annandale NSW 2038

Published in: on January 10, 2012 at 3:20 am  Comments (1)  
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The letter F

I am seeing the letter F a lot these days and sounding it out as I go through the alphabet with my son. F is for fish. F is for flamingo. F is for fox. F is for frog. F is for Felix (BIT). And this morning F is for French toast, frangelico and fairy floss.

I love my French toast buttery, crisp on the outside and gooey and eggy on the inside. I usually use brioche but today I used leftover pannettone. I also had leftover fairy floss in the fridge; green pistachio fairy floss. It has a fine texture with a delicate nutty flavour and looks like it should be decoration for a fairy wonderland instead of an ingredient.

The result was Mr ELG saying it was the best ever French toast so I will share this magnificent recipe with you just in case you also have these leftovers in your pantry post silly season:

Frangelico French toast with fairy floss

Ingredients:

8 eggs

2 cups milk

1/2 cup pure cream

Juice of one orange

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground nutmeg

60ml Frangelico

Zest of one lemon

8 slices of thickly cut panettone

100g Pariya Pashmak pistachio fairy floss

50g butter

Raspberry sauce, strawberries and maple syrup to serve

Whisk all ingredients together and dunk slices in custard mixture until bread is soaked through. Heat 20g butter in pan and cook slices until golden brown each side. Keep cooked French toast warm in oven until ready to serve.

Plate up two slices each, sprinkle with raspberry , strawberries and maple syrup. Finish with fairy floss scattered over the top and serve immediately. Serve with crispy bacon if desired!

Serves 4

Enjoy licking the plate!!

Published in: on December 29, 2011 at 4:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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