Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The start of some frolicking?

In line with my blog title, I feel I should at least start discussing my attempts at frolicking (aka: exercise) or lack thereof. In good news, I am playing basketball tonight. However, in bad news, it will be my last game until the season reconvenes in January (when all of us will be a little less fit and a few pounds of Christmas "eatage" heavier!). 
I should probably backtrack a few steps regarding basketball. I guess I could say that it is the one sport at which I've always been reasonable. Actually, on second thought, maybe not. When I hit the ripe old age of six, my lovely and particularly talented sportsman of a father was asked to coach a local under-tens boys' basketball team. He accepted the role with one condition - that his six-year-old daughter (yours truly) could also play on the team. I'm sure you can imagine that at 2-3 years younger than my fellow teammates and being of the fairer sex, I didn't get my hands on the ball for the entire first season. My Dad describes my on-court antics as a kind of delayed reaction - our opposition would move into offence and I would trundle down the court about 3 seconds after everyone else. Likewise, when the ball was turned over, I'd be at least ten metres behind my teammates. Hey, what did he expect? When I finally got my hands on the ball (circa Season 2), my very first shot was a success.....for the opposition! Yes, that's right - my first ever score was in the wrong basket. As my beloved would say: "facepalm"!  
Despite these *cough* minor setbacks, I must have been a persistent wee version of myself, because I continued to play throughout primary school, gradually recruiting a number of my female friends - some of whom I continue to play with to this day. 
I currently play twice weekly - in both a women's and a mixed team. Tonight is women's night - otherwise known as lurid purple with red trim night (if only basketball uniform manufacturers could override poor team colour choice!). Basketball is honestly one of the few forms of exercises that I actually look forward to. Additionally, having a commitment to a team means that it's not easy to miss a game. This is in stark contrast to my many excuses for not working out at the gym! 
So there you have it, an insight into some of my frolicking. I am hopeful that I can add to my sport and fitness repertoire in the coming few months. There are certain things that I have never been able to do, including (but not limited to) running more than 1km. But I think I'll leave that for a later post... 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Six tastes of Turkey

Where: Lezzet (79 - 81 Brighton Road, Elwood VIC 3184) 
What: Six course banquet (discount Scoopon deal)
Rating: 14.5/20

My beloved and I couldn't resist a $55, six-course banquet deal at Lezzet in Melbourne's beach side suburb of Elwood. We had never before visited the restaurant, but, as lovers of all Middle Eastern food, are always eager to try new places. Overall, it was a very good experience - the food was generally tasty and for $27.50 per head (including a glass of vino), who can complain? Sans voucher, the venue is priced reasonably, with mains coming in at around the $25 mark. 

The night started on a resounding high - stuffed mushrooms with Danish feta, walnuts and goats cheese. The combination of the lightly whipped cheeses was, put simply, stunning - certainly the highlight of my evening.  

While really not much more than an amuse-bouche, these little fungal creations truly packed a punch in the flavour stakes. 
Before I go any further, I must apologise in advance for my photography of this and other dishes - I was only able to take photos on my phone, so slightly grainy images is the best I could do. 

Course #2 arrived within two minutes of demolishing the mushrooms - a prawn mousse and scallop concoction, wrapped in kadayif pastry. This course was especially creamy and rich, which the strips of crispy fried beetroot complemented very nicely.

The third dish of the evening was a deep fried calamari on a bed of salsa-like salad. This was probably my least favourite dish of the night. As the previous two courses had been so rich and intense in flavour, my stomach just couldn't cope with an encounter with another oily, fried option. In my opinion, the chef would have been better off switching courses three and four...but each to their own. Indeed, my beloved devoured said calamari like there was no tomorrow!

Course #4 really helped cleanse my palate after all that oil - a Wagyu beef carpaccio. My carnivore tendencies always get slightly excited at the prospect of uncooked meat. Does that make me primitive?!? 

The final savoury dish of the evening was a real highlight - slow cooked lamb on the bone. The waiter explained that it had been cooked for 18 hours. Fig and preserved lemon flavours permeated the meat, which literally fell away from the bone upon the slightest touch. The dish was finished with Moghrabieh couscous and roast vegies. 

For my beloved, dessert was the low point of the evening. I think he was disappointed by the dish, which was meant to be "Turkish delight sundae with Vanilla bean Ice-cream, rose & lemon Turkish Delight chunks and coated in roasted pistachio" [Side note: do random capitals annoy you as much as they do I?]. Instead it was more like vanilla ice-cream, with a smattering of nuts, pashmak (Persian fairy floss for the uninitiated) and some sort of berry/jam-like concoction. To be honest, my intense sweet tooth and "dessert stomach" was thrilled to see the ice-cream, but I too would have liked something that resembled a "Turkish Delight chunk".

All in all, a lovely evening out, rounded out by a refreshing peppermint tea. 
Would I go back there again without coupon? I certainly think those mushrooms and lamb deserve a second try - don't you? 

Lezzet Modern Turkish Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stephanie's delicious Bruschetta

Most of the blogs I'm reading currently provide an abundance of hearty pumpkin recipes. (Side note: when will Australian supermarkets start stocking cans of puréed pumpkin? Seems like an excellent addition to various dishes (specifically my breakfast oats) and eliminates the need for all that chopping, cooking and mashing). I digress! Down Under, however, we're merely days away from Summer - three to be exact - and rather than pumpkin concoctions, it's time to enjoy some lighter, more refreshing meals. 

This morning, my beloved and I ventured to the Clayton farmers' market to get our hands on some locally grown produce. Although the market was small, there was a palpable abundance of colour.

I continue to marvel at the unadulterated, intense flavour of all of these goods. By comparison, supermarket produce is like eating textured water!

This morning, a number of things caught my eye - plump, ripe tomatoes; leafy, vibrant basil; locally grown garlic; red shallots; and crusty ciabatta. Instantly, I knew what I *had* to make - bruschetta. This recipe is a family favourite that I picked up from my mother during my undergraduate days - thanks Mum! 

Stephanie's delicious Bruschetta
Serves 2 as a main meal or 4-6 as an entrée (N.B. Mum's servings are generous!)

8-10 ripe tomatoes
1 Lebanese cucumber or half an English cucumber
1 red onion or shallot
2 cloves of garlic (please buy local garlic, the stuff imported from China is truly insipid!)
A generous handful of Italian basil
A dash of olive oil
Salt and pepper 
Goats cheese (optional)
Crusty ciabatta bread to serve

Dice tomatoes, onion and cucumber and add to a salad bowl. Pour any of the tomato juice into the bowl.
Shred basil and add to tomato mixture.
Crush garlic gloves into salad and add a quick drizzle of olive oil.
Generously season salad and stir gently. 
Refrigerate to allow flavours to intensify.

To serve:
Crumble goats cheese into salad and stir through (if desired - it adds a lovely creaminess and taste to the dish in my opinion).
Lightly toast ciabatta and top with tomato mix at the table.

Fresh, delicious, communal and for me, the essence of Summer!

Stay tuned tomorrow (or Monday if I've had one too many Cab Savs/beers) as I review our forthcoming six (yes six!) course Turkish banquet - I can't wait!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Easy Pad Thai

If I had to pick only one country's national cuisine to subsist on for the rest of my life it would be that of Thailand,  hands down! Thankfully, I'm blessed to live in such a multicultural and vibrant city that I have the edible delights of the world at my fingertips. Nonetheless, Thai food holds a special place in my heart, which brings me nicely to my most recent meal. 

Tonight's dinner was a "whatever's left in the fridge"-inspired Pad Thai. This dish is in no way authentic (lacking tamarind, palm sugar etc.). However, I have tried to replicate some Thai flavours by substituting other ingredients that were more accessible. And, let's face it, on a Friday night, who can be bothered shopping around for dinner?!

I am fairly vague about amounts here, as I tend to make all stir fries "to taste". I regularly fish a noodle or vegetable out of the wok and try to balance elements of the sauce that way. Although I can promise a more scientific approach to my baking endeavors, my stir frying philosophy is a little more...umm..."artistic"!

So here goes: 
Easy (unauthentic!) Pad Thai
A packet of rice stick noodles (typically somewhere between 300g and 400g)
Peanut oil
One egg lightly whisked
A packet of firm tofu (approximately 200g) cubed
Roughly chopped peanuts
Broccoli (or whatever other vegetable(s) are screaming to be used from the crisper)
A generous handful of bean shoots
Half a dozen green onions chopped roughly (otherwise known as spring onions or scallions depending on what part of the world you're reading this from)
The juice of one small lime*
2 tablespoons of soy sauce*
2 tablespoons of fish sauce*
3 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce*
Lemon wedges to serve.
*These quantities are not exact. As noted, taste the sauce as you go - if it needs more saltiness, add soy sauce, acidity, add more lime etc.

Place noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to sit for 5 minutes or until softened. Drain and set aside.
Heat oil, then swirl egg mixture to coat the wok, forming what resembles a thin crêpe. Chop up roughly and set aside.
Add a touch more oil and fry up cubes of tofu.  
After a couple of minutes toss in vegetables and crushed peanuts. Add the chopped egg "crêpe".
Add sauce components, tasting as you go and balancing flavours. 
Once content with the depth of flavour, serve with chunky lemon wedges.

So delicious that even our darling, Schatzi wanted a taste!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Swedish-inspired spice muffins

My first *real* post on this blog is a tribute to my very lovely friends who reside in Scandinavia and were kind enough to send me the best selling Swedish cookbook, Swedish Cakes and Cookies.

The following recipe for spice muffins is not identical to that in the book - instead (as I typically do), I have tried to "engineer" the recipe to better suit the contents of my pantry and fridge. These mini cakes were a resounding success and worthy to take to the in-laws for an after dinner treat tonight.  

The muffins are truly reminiscent of a northern hemisphere Christmas - spicy, warming and starchy. Perhaps less suitable to a southern hemisphere Summer, but let's be honest, such delights go down a treat the year round. 

So here it is, my very first recipe. I do hope you enjoy!

Swedish-inspired spice muffins (makes 12)
100g melted margarine or butter (I use Nuttelex - a vegan, kosher, lactose-intolerant friendly spread)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1¼ cup all purpose flour
1½ teaspoons ground cardamom
2½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup milk (I use lactose free milk for the benefit of my beloved)

Preheat oven to 200°C and grease muffin tin.
Melt butter and set aside to cool.
Beat eggs and sugar until thickened.
Add spices, flour and baking power.
Gently mix through milk and melted batter. At this point the mixture will appear quite runny. Don't despair - this just means super moist muffins at the end of the day.
Pour into greased tin and bake for around 20 minutes, or until the muffin tops are lightly golden. 

(with a few dried cranberries on the side to augment the festiveness factor)!

Who am I?

So, who am I?
No, I'm not having an existential crisis, but rather think it's appropriate to commence a new blog with some introductions.
Hi! I'm Georgia. I like to eat, drink and increasingly enjoy getting myself moving. I'm in my late 20s, work full time in strategic planning and have been studying towards my MBA for what feels like forever. I'm happily "mortgaged" to my beloved and am the proud mother of two glorious cat babies. 
I have started this blog to document my adventures in food land (in Australia and abroad). I intend to share new recipes (both successes and spectacular failures!), restaurant reviews, my attempts at healthy living and exercise and my international dégustation experiences - a number of which are planned in the foreseeable future.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and please feel free to leave a comment or two!