Jan 31 2018
Once upon a time in a quaint town of Fontainebleau, France…
May 2017, It was a long time planned holiday and finally we arrived in Fontainebleau. Our most delightful host the Cojan family, showed us around the city and hosted beautiful lunches and dinners. We spent a couple of weekends there soaking the beauty French spring had to offer, from the colourful blooms to the tastiest fresh produce I had ever experienced!
We played Toad in the Hole game, the French version which is called Jeu de Grenouille. This particular one belonged to these children’s great great grandfather. What a great family heirloom!
It was a warm-ish spring day and our host Thierry decided to cook up an Aussie BBQ. He is married to an Aussie girl and had spent some time living in Sydney. Everything was super simple to prepare, the secret ingredient is having the freshest good quality produce. I can’t emphasise that enough. There was no marinating involved, just a bit of butter to moisten the eggplants, wrap the garlic bulbs in the foil to seal the flavour and a generous squeeze of lemon juice and sea salt to taste and Voila!
After our long lazy lunch, everyone played a bit more in the backyard. The kids explored every corner and saw bumble bees and really huge slimy snails. Then we decided to check out the annual plant market in the the city square.
And of course, a trip to Fontainebleau won’t be complete without a visit to the forest. So enchanting and full of interesting boulders. It’s my husband’s dream playground. He was super psyched when our then 2 year old girl decided to climb every rock she chose.
I hope you enjoy this way overdue post. It’s been almost a year since I took these photos and today writing this post make me want to go back there again asap. There’s one more post I have on the recipes from the Cojan family, stay tuned 🙂
BBQ Sea Bream
Ingredients - Serves 6-8
- 3 medium size sea breams
- 3 big eggplants halved
- 6 corn cobs
- 3 garlic bulbs
- handful of field mushrooms
- Halved the eggplants and score the flesh in diagonal lines then brush with melted butter and a touch of sea salt.
- Wrap the garlic bulbs in aluminium foil.
- Place the fish in the BBQ holder with scales on for easy peel when it’s cooked.
- Place everything in the BBQ for about 10 minutes.
- Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon juice and sea salt.
Dec 14 2017
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)
- Chocolate Cake. Preheat oven to 185C and grease a 6″ round baking tin. Line tin with baking paper as well.
- 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.
- Bake for 40 minutes at 185C. Cool in baking tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- 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.
- 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
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
- 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.
- 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.
- Wet your hands and make little sausage shaped morsels out of the mince around 10cm long.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.