Dec 14 2017

Guilt-free Pleasure

I finally found my ideal chocolate cake recipe thanks to the lovely and talented Miss Greenberg

Rebecca: I am really interested in catering for all dietary needs and making sure everyone gets a slice of cake. I started the journey when I realised I wasn’t able to eat dairy, but needed to fulfill my sweet tooth needs. Starting with cupcakes, cookies, muffins and then went on from there. I have a fine art background and really enjoy working with my hands. After lots of different jobs in different fields, I found that cake decorating is the perfect combo for me. Greenberg & Co Cakes was established to make celebration cakes more accesible and still be beautiful and delicious.

My grandmother baked cakes for all of our birthdays and now baking is a way for me to provide a meaningful gift for people. Sharing food is very important to me and the basic nurturing need that it meets. I have social anxiety and find making food is a way of participating, but not having to participate, if that make sense. When my grandma didn’t bake our cakes, she bought them from a Jewish Bakery called Julia’s back at home in the States. She called them “Real Birthday Cakes” and I’ve been trying to live up to the expectation.

Rebecca starting the process of making a vegan buttercream using Aquafaba – a replacement for egg white. *It is composed of carbohydrates, proteins, and other soluble plant solids which have migrated from the legume seeds (in this case it’s chickpeas) to the water during the cooking process. This unique combination of ingredients gives it a wide spectrum of emulsifying, foaming, binding, gelatinizing and thickening properties. This discovery was made by a French chef Joël Roessel in December 2014. He also published recipes for floating island of Chaville, chocolate mousse, and he made a meringue made from chickpea liquid, sugar, corn starch and guar gum to demonstrate its foaming capabilities.

Like egg whites, aquafaba has the ability to form stable foams when whipped which makes it suitable for desserts such as meringues. The foam formed by aquafaba is novel in that it can remain stable for prolonged periods of time without collapsing (e.g., hours), whereas egg white foams can become dry and collapse.

Aquafaba can also be repeatedly frozen, thawed, heated, or cooled without substantially changing its properties as an egg replacer. The proteins are already denatured, and the starches are already gelatinized from the cooking process. In contrast, egg white irreversibly coagulates when its proteins are heated. The ability for aquafaba to be used at any temperature allows for novel applications such as hot foams, instant mixes, and recipes that take advantage of emulsification under heat. (*source:Wikipedia)

Who: Rebecca Greenberg

Home is: Canterbury, NSW

Family Origin: Northeast United States

I can’t live without: Potatoes & my partner (but I better say the other way around)

Occupation: Cake Decorator

Dream Job: Cake Decorator

Currently I am obsessed with: My chickens (Raptor, Houdini, Blondie & Ichiban) and learning about chicken keeping. Did you know they sleep cuddling on a roost?

Childhood taste: Very fondly remember homemade food from my mom, dad and grandma. Especially Jewish favourites like kugel and latkes. Yummmmm!

I will always have in my pantry: Masa harina to make tortillas, tamales and arepas…a lovely remnant of a not so lovely ex.

I learnt to cook from: Watching my family and lots of trial and error. I LOVE cooking shows and asking Google.

Currently I am listening to: Podcasts during the day (WTF, Lore and This American Life are my favourites). Clarissa Estes “Bedtime Stories” at night. Her voice lulls me to sleep, I will never know how the story ends.

One day I must visit: I’d really like to go everywhere given the opportunity. Really, there is no where that is not worth learning about.

Go to meal: Whatever goes with mashed potato.

I am really good at: Making things seem organised, but not actually cleaning. Convincing myself I’m not very good at things. Being patient.

The unforgettable meal: Too many to remember, but lots shared with my partner Panda, who shares my love of degustation menus.

My piece of Sydney: La Perouse beach: Little Congwong: A hidden paradise with a picnic.

Guilty Pleasure: Chocolate and Rom Coms/ Chocolate with Rom Coms.

Who does the dishes: We share. I’m very lucky.

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue ‘Butter’cream

Ingredients - Serves 6-8

  • Chocolate Cake
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk of choice (I use soy)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil (I use sunflower)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unbleached wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • 1/2 cup aquafaba
  • 1 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 345 g Nuttelex or vegan butter of choice (room temperature)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (or more to taste)
  1. Chocolate Cake. Preheat oven to 185C and grease a 6″ round baking tin. Line tin with baking paper as well.
  2. Combine the milk and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and set aside to curdle. Combine sugar, oil and vanilla together. It will resemble caramel. Add milk apple cider vinegar mix and mix well. Sift dry ingredients into wet ingredients and combine well, making sure no large clumps remain. Be careful not to over mix.
  3. Bake for 40 minutes at 185C. Cool in baking tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Combine aquafaba and sugar in a bowl set over a water bath. Whisk until the mixture has reached 60C or feels hot to the touch and sugar is dissolved.
  5. Whip the warmed mixture in an electric mixer until cool to the touch, 5-10 minutes. Gradually add Nuttelex, 1 piece at a time, beating well after each addition. If the buttercream is warm, it may look soupy. Chill briefly and then reheat until smooth. If the buttercream is too cold, it may look grainy. Warm the buttercream over a large bowl of water and then beat until smooth. Add vanilla and beat until incorporated. The finished buttercream will be light and fluffy. It takes awhile to get there, but it will make the change.
Oct 27 2017

It’s Kaftalicious!

Alex’s quick and light version of Lebanese kafta – packed with fresh herbs and punchy spices

I caught up with Alex at a friends’ podcast Fussy Eater launch night at Cake Wines. Being in an event about eating/food, naturally and appropriately we started to chat about his love of cooking. After a few persuasions from me and encouragements from our friends, Alex agreed to cook for the blog and the result was kaftalicious!

Alex made his quick and light version of the Lebanese kafta. Packed with fresh herbs and punchy spices, it was a great Sunday easy lunch served with the tangy coriander chilli and pomegranate roast potatoes.

Alex: My mum’s Lebanese so she’d always make kafta if we were having a BBQ. There aren’t many ways that she expresses her ethnicity, but food is definitely one of them. The potatoes are a recipe I was inpired by/ripped off from Mankoushe’s Instagram, my fave Lebanese bakery/cafe in Melbourne.

Baharat Spice Mix – this is a special all-purpose spice blend widely used in Middle Eastern cuisine.  Add a healthy dose of this mix into the mince to create depth and full bodied kafta.

You can use food processor to mix all the ingredients, but Alex prefers to finely chop them to add a bit more texture.

Roast the quartered potatoes until they are golden brown then let cool on the stove before adding the coriander, chilli and pomegranate dressing.

Who: Al Grigg

Home is: Darlington

Family origin: My mum’s Lebanese and my Dad’s Aussie

I can’t live without: Music. It’s pretty much the centre of my life. I’m always listening to music or playing music or humming a tune or have a song going through my head or hosting a radio show about music. From 2003-2011, I was the lead singer of Red Riders

Occupation: Event and venue booker

Dream Job: I would’ve loved to remain as a professional musician, but that ship has well and truly sailed. I also think I’d like to be the guy that gives ratings to movies, TV shows and games. I reckon that would be fun. Although I guess you’d see a lot of messed up stuff too

Currently I am obsessed with: Space – I’m always obsessed with space. It blows my tiny mind

Childhood taste: Pizza Pockets or white bread rolls with Kraft singles melted in the microwave

I will always have in my pantry: A lot of random herbs and spices, cos I always buy a packet, use a tiny bit then push them to the back of the cupboard and forget about them and then buy the same thing again

I learnt to cook from: My mum. She’s an awesome and very natural cook. Like very instinctual with flavours and what’s gonna work. She always had a lot of cookbooks around and Gourmet Traveller mags, so I’d alway paw through those. Plus I love watching cooking shows. I watched a lot of Huey’s Cooking Adventures during high school

Currently I’m listening to: SZA – Ctrl. My housemate would always be listening to this music and I’d constantly ask her, “Who’s this?” And every time the answer would be SZA. So now I’m hooked

One day I must visit: Beirut. My mum was born in Tripoli and her family is from the mountains of Lebanon, so I’d love to visit those places as well, but I think I would fall in love with Beirut

Go to meal: I actually love making salads. I know that sounds lame, but I love delicious fresh veggies and herbs and sometimes fruit with a really good dressing. Just real crispy and yum

I am really good at: Answering this questionnaire. I’m killing it!

The unforgettable meal: Oh my god I have the worst memory. Quay was pretty amazing. Had a really good meal at Rosetta recently. The Sichuan chicken wings at Queen Vic were a good time. I love Mankoushe in Brunswick. I go there every time I’m in Melbourne without fail

My piece of Sydney: Gordon’s Bay. A genuine slice of paradise

Guilty pleasure: Being on a low-carb diet. My secret shame

Who does the dishes: I do them myself

Alex: Serve the potatoes and the kafta together. Feel free to whip up a quick mint yoghurt to dip the kafta in cause it’s a great accompaniment and so delish!

Lebanese Kafta & Coriander Chili Pomegranate Potatoes

Ingredients - Serves 4

  • 500g lamb (or beef) mince
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 bunch of mint
  • 3 good sized spring onions
  • 1 tbs of Baharat spice mix (a Lebanese spice mix containing Paprika, Pepper, Cumin, Cassia, Cloves, Coriander Seed, Cardamom, Nutmeg)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and peper
  • As many smallish waxy potatoes as you wanna eat but enough for four people
  • Pomegranate mollasses
  • Chilli powder
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 juicy lemon
  • Handful of Pomegranate seeds
  1. Start with the potatoes. Cut the spuds into sort of 1cm cubes or quartered. I like to go small cause they end up extra crunchy. Douse in olive oil and salt, chuck into a baking dish and pop in a preheated 220c degree oven. Cook until super golden.
  2. While they’re crisping up, take the mint, 3/4 of the parsley and the three spring onions and dice super fine. No stalks. Knead the herbs and onion into the mince with your hands. Sprinkle in the Baharat. This will give it the authentic Middle Eastern flavour. Chuck in a dollop of olive oil and mix until it’s well combined and looks consistent.
  3. Wet your hands and make little sausage shaped morsels out of the mince around 10cm long.
  4. Heat a pan with some oil on med-high and cook each little kafta for a couple minutes on each side until slightly firm to touch. They would be better on the BBQ, but I was out of gas and feeling a bit lazy.
  5. On a clean board, dice the rest of the parsley, the coriander and the garlic. Again, super fine. Put in a bowl. Pour in a healthy amount of olive oil. Maybe half a cup will do. Add salt and pepper, chilli powder, a good dollop of the pomegranate molasses and the juice of one lemon. Now mix in your crispy potatoes into the deliciousness and stir around, coating them thoroughly. Now’s the time to bung in the pomegranate seeds too if you’re using them.
  6. Serve the potatoes and the kafta together. Feel free to whip up a quick mint yoghurt to dip the kafta in. It’s a great accompaniment and so delicious.
Jul 30 2017

Paris in the Spring with Hanz Gueco

Hanz scored a highly Commended Electrolux Appetite For Excellence awards in 2014. Three years later, he finds himself in Paris living the dream of every young chef.

On a fine spring morning in Paris, I had the pleasure of spending some time with the highly talented Australian chef Hanz Gueco.

Hanz: I’ve been very fortunate in my career to work at a lot of great places. I’ve worked all over the world: Australia (Marque, Rockpool, Est, Cafe Paci); Singapore; Japan (Ryugin); Sweden; the USA (Manresa) and rural Belgium. I now find myself cooking in Paris at Restaurant Verjus.

Verjus is about as romantic cooking setting there is. It’s a small but chic 30 seat restaurant situated right behind the Palais Royal Gardens. Hanz works with some of the best produce in the world to make a small and mostly vegetable based tasting menu that can often change daily. They also try to keep the food modern and with the times but still respecting the classic French cuisine traditions. Open only for dinner Monday to Friday, the waitlist is months long however this allows the chef a rare occurence in the hospitality industry – weekends off!  It really is every young cook’s dream.

Before we headed to Bastille market, we grabbed a couple of THE most amazing pain au chocolat from Blé Sucré. With this early start we took our time strolling through each aisle to find the freshest produce for the dishes Hanz was to prepare that day.

Hanz: I was planning on making something completely different but I saw that the fresh almonds, cherries and white asparagus had started so I changed course. It’s nice just walking around the market. Picking all the best stuff on the day and then figuring it all out on the way home.

Really, it was the best market experience for me – like having a personal food tour guide, in Paris! Hanz was very approachable and happy to take me to his favourite haunts. He showed me his favourite French dessert Tarte Tropézienne, the best French butter Beurre Bordier, his favourite grocer from Normandie and explained how Mimolette cheese is made 🙂

As we walked past the oyster aisle (yes a whole row dedicated to over 20 kinds of oysters from all over France!), Hanz picked some lovely sauvage oysters to go with the white asparagus dish he had in mind. He also bought some fresh rhubarb for his mignonette dressing to go with the oysters.

Hanz: I love how the raw acidic rhubarb makes this dressing super fresh, like the taste of spring. Try your best to make a really nice dice with the sharpest knife you own.

Who: Hanz Gueco

Home is: Sydney, Australia

Family origin: Both my parents are from the Phillipines. Im a thoroughbred

I can’t live without: Like so many unfortunate fools….My iPhone

Occupation: Chef

Dream Job: (See above)

Currently I am obsessed with: Im trying to buy my first vintage Rolex. When you’re hunting for the right one, you start getting very obsessive.

Childhood taste: Sunday lunches with the family at Yum Cha

I will always have in my pantry: My new year’s resolution was to have champagne and avocados in the fridge at all times.

I learnt to cook from: I was very fortunate to be taught by a lot of the great chefs of Australia; Phil Wood, Peter Doyle, Mark Best and Pasi Petanen.

Currently I’m listening to: A lot of Grateful Dead, the new Drake album and Parisian ambulances whooshing by my apartment

One day I must visit: Restaurant Mugaritz in San Sebastian. Im going in October, super excited.

Go to meal: Omelettes. Its the easiest/hardest thing to make in the world

I am really good at: Overthinking things

The unforgettable meal: It was July 2009 at Manresa in California. It was dinner at the end of my internship. I don’t remember all the dishes but I still remember the flavours. David Kinch is the best cook I’ve ever seen

My piece of Sydney: Morning runs along the harbour weaving through tourists around the Opera House

Guilty pleasure: Amaretto Sours

Who does the dishes: Ibrahim (The Kitchen Hand at Verjus)

After the market, we headed for his apartment nearby to get cooking. But to start, Hanz poured a glass of negroni for himself and a chilled, bubbly Perrier for me. Watching him cook was a delight – he has such speed and precision. I helped to peel all the fresh almonds. They tasted so sweet and had just the right level of crunchiness.

Hanz: I’m really pleased with how it turned out. The colours are gorgeous, all the different whites with the really dramatic reds. And the smoked eel makes vegetables taste so good.

Hanz was called to a lunch appointment that afternoon, so lucky for me, I had the white asparagus dish all to myself. It had such a beautiful combination of texture and flavour. Both the white asparagus and silky texture of the smoked eel worked perfectly with the crunch of fresh almonds. On top of this, the tanginess of the cherries was amazing paired with the saltiness of the dish.

White asparagus may be hard to come by in Australia however you can substitute it with the more commonly found green asparagus.

It was my third visit to Paris and this city charms me more each time.
I can’t wait to go back.

Hanz currently resides in Paris and the restaurant Verjus can be found at 52, rue de Richelieu 75001 Paris.

Oysters with Rhubarb Mignonette

Ingredients - Serves 2

  • 12 oyster shucked
  • 100ml red wine vinger
  • 1 stick of rhubarb (finely diced)
  • 1 shallot (finely diced)
  • 1/2 tsp whole black pepper (roughly ground)
  1. Mix the red wine vinegar, rhubarb, shallots and black pepper in a bowl.  Spoon a little of the dressing on the oysters. Serve.

White Asparagus from Provence with Smoked Eel, Cherries and Young Almonds

Ingredients - Serves 4

  • 12pc large white asparagus
  • 40g butter
  • Sea salt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 200g smoked eel (skin off, deboned and cut into batons the same size you will cut the white asparagus)
  • 200g cherries (halved and deseeded)
  • 100g young almonds (peeled and halved)
  • Red arroche (wild spinach)
  1. Peels the white asparagus and cut 3cm off the base or when it starts to look less woody.
  2. Blanch the asparagus in salted boiling water for 3 minute or until tender. Take the asparagus out and refresh in ice water to stop the cooking process. When the asparagus is cold, cut it down lengthways and then in half to make batons.
  3. Reheat the Asparagus in a saucepan with the butter and a few drops of water. Season with some salt and finish it off some lemon juice.
  4. Take off the heat and divide into four plates. Arrange the remaining ingredients on top and serve.