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« March 2008 | Main | May 2008 »

April 2008

26 April 2008

...and now for something completely different

Aboutaustralianewzealand

I'm really excited to tell you that today I officially became the About.com Guide to Australian & New Zealand Food.

In my new role I'll cook traditional and modern Aussie/Kiwi recipes and write reviews and articles on all things food.

On my guide site, you can discover how to get the most out of your barbecue, how to cook a great lamb roast, or find out how to make the perfect Pavlova with easy step-by-step photos.

But Aussie food isn't just all Pavlovas and Meat Pies (although there is a pretty delicious steak and mushroom pie waiting there for you). Australian & Kiwi cuisine has evolved into some of the most innovative and exciting in the world. Australian chefs and restaurants are constantly pushing boundaries, winning awards and dazzling taste buds.

The picture above is a little taste of some of my recipes. There's a Kumara and Crab Bisque, the humble Lamington, Macadamia Nut Pesto, Thai Chicken Sausage Rolls, Barbecued Prawns and a Passionfruit Soufflé.

Taste Buddies will continue as usual. From time to time, though, I will feature something delicious from the new site on Taste Buddies.

I hope you enjoy it!

24 April 2008

ANZAC Biscuits

Anzacbiscuits1

Anzac Biscuits (cookies are called biscuits in Australia and New Zealand) represent something special. On 25 April 1915, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) landed at Gallipoli in Turkey where thousands lost their lives.

The soldiers' bravery in that campaign has become legendary in both countries. I am not one for patriotic fanfare, but, if you're a Kiwi or an Aussie, you can't help but feel the emotion of this story.

ANZAC Day is celebrated in Australia and New Zealand every April 25. Each year we reflect on the valour these young men showed as they were "going over the top". And, as always, you cannot but be struck by the staggering waste of life and the wretched futility of war.

Anyway, this post is about biscuits. It is believed that ANZAC biscuits were made by soldiers' families and wives during the First World War. They were specifically made to endure the long journey at sea to the troops. The recipe has changed in the intervening century to now include butter and coconut.

ANZAC biscuits are baked and enjoyed all year round, although they have a special significance on April 25.

The biscuits themselves smell great - even while you're mixing the dough, it's hard to be restrained. They are buttery and have the perfect combination of sweet and salty. The coconut is perfect for them and it's hard to stop at eating just four... or five.

Continue reading "ANZAC Biscuits" »

19 April 2008

Thai Green Curry

Thaigreencurry2_2

One of my goals for 2008 is to start making my own curry paste. I'm embarrassed to say that I've never attempted to do so.  I think it's a combination of not having a large enough mortar and pestle and also just being lazy.

Until I do so, I'll continue to use the excellent Namjai brand green curry paste.

When making a green curry, it is important to try to use Thai sweet basil (pictured below) as it imparts a distinct aniseed-like aroma into the curry. The basil is recognisable by its purple stem and flowers.

Thaibasil

I also add Thai green peppercorns (Prik Thai), which add a sharp bite to the fragant flavours. The next ingredient is a small Thai eggplant called  Ma-kheua Phraw. Even though it soaks up the flavour of the curry, it's still quite bitter but delicious nonetheless. If I can't find any of these little eggplants I usually just substitute them with the large purple variety.

I usually use chicken, however pork, white fish or prawns work really well in this dish.

The curry can be served with rice, although I usually eat it with rice noodles which are readily available in Asian food stores.

Continue reading "Thai Green Curry" »

15 April 2008

Oysters Tempura: Oishi Indeed!

Tempuraoysters

There is something about the Japanese aesthetic which calms. So I'd like to say that it was with some hesitation that I destroyed the little Japanese garden I had just made on my plate.

The truth is that there was no hesitation. These little tempura tempters were gobbled up within 7.5 seconds of my camera going "click".

Happily, I was able to reconcile my appetite with the aesthetic by invoking Wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi, in terms of Japanese art and arrangements, is centered on the acceptance of transience. This view, rooted in Buddhist ideals, particularly values imperfection and incompleteness, and considers these qualities to be beautiful.

And it was beautiful. The oysters were delicious and, afterwards, looking at their empty shells, I saw the beauty of their transience - into my tummy!

Continue reading "Oysters Tempura: Oishi Indeed!" »

12 April 2008

Panko Prawns: Delicious and Healthy!

Pankoprawns

All right, all right! Perhaps not healthy... exactly.

These little guys certainly were delicious, though. So you'll forgive me for getting a little bit carried away.

Nic published a panko post last year and I wasn't planning on posting another one tonight - that is until I popped one of these panko'd pleasers into my mouth and it almost burst it was so juicy!

Recently, I have been tending to Asian White Shrimp which I've found to be sweeter than Black Tiger Prawns. Black Tiger Prawns are said to possess firmer flesh, but I can tell you that the White ones I had tonight were plump and bursting with flavour.

Oh, and as for the indubitable health benefits: I figure that the prawn shells are very high in calcium, so if you eat the tails, your bones will be sure to thank you.

If you want to have a look at this embarrassingly simple recipe, click on the link to the Nic's post.

10 April 2008

Thai Sticky Rice with Mango

Kaoniewmamuang1_2

Thai Sticky Rice with Mango, or Kao Niew Mamuang, is undoubtedly my favourite Thai Dessert.

Its fragrant simplicity is timeless. I have loved it since I was a little girl living in Bangkok and will still try to eat it at least once a day when I am visiting Thailand. A bit much, I know, but nothing beats the Kao Niew Mamuang made by Bangkok street vendors.

Sticky rice is made using a long grain glutionus rice. It needs to be soaked overnight prior to cooking. I use my Thai sticky rice steamer to cook it.

The sticky rice is then mixed with coconut milk that's been boiled with sugar and salt and then topped with ripe mango and toasted sesame seeds.

To prepare the rice, I first wash and drain it after its been soaking. I then wrap it in cheese cloth and place it in the bamboo steamer basket. Next, I cover the rice parcel and steam it for 25 minutes or until the grains are chewy and pop in your mouth. This steaming process can also be done in a normal steamer if need be but the rice has to be wrapped in cheesecloth so it's easier to handle.

The next step will follow in the recipe, however, an important thing to remember which my dad told me, was not to follow the recipe too closely when preparing the coconut milk mixture. He advises to have 3/4 of a cup of sugar on standby but not to neccessarily throw it all in at once in case it's too sweet for your liking. Do it to taste and find the perfect balance for you.

Continue reading "Thai Sticky Rice with Mango" »

04 April 2008

Oaxaqueñan Chocolate

Oaxacanhotchocolate_3

We are just back from our trip to Mexico with a bag full of goodies to talk about. Most of our time was spent exploring the fascinating markets in Oaxaca city, with a final stint for some sun in Puerto Angel. 

The Oaxaca region is rightly considered the food bowl of Mexico with its fertile valleys producing an abundance of tropical fruit and vegetables. It is also famous for its moles, a type of sauce, its string cheese (quesillo), its toasted grasshoppers (chapulines) and its chocolate.   

Chocolate has played an important part in the Mexican diet for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Once considered the 'food of the gods', chocolate was made from roasting cocoa beans, grinding them and then mixing them with sugar, spices and walnuts or almonds.

This traditional method of making chocolate can still be found in Mexico however it's getting harder to find with the rise of commercial chocolatiers like Mayordomo. The signature Mayordomo shop is located in the 'chocolate quarter' of Oaxaca on 20 de Novembre Street and Hildago Aveue. The smell is intoxicating and lures young and old in to sample its wares. The lines went out the door.

I bought several chunks of chocolate from a smaller chocolatier in the 20 de Novembre Mercado (market). The fragrant chocolate is infused with cinnamon, raw sugar and just a hint of cloves. It's not the kind of treat that you'd just snack on as it's quite gritty but it's perfect for hot chocolates or in sauces.

Molinillo

Chocolate drinks are made using a Molinillo (moh-lin-nyee-oh); a traditional wooden implement used to whisk the hot chocolate until it froths. The Molinillo is held between the palms of the hand and then spun back and forth to break down the chocolate and aerate the hot milk or water.

Whiskingmexicanchocolate

The whisking makes a very distinct and comforting sound. This, paired with the rich aroma of the hot chocolate, greeted us almost every morning during our trip. We've got at least 20 cups of chocolate left in our precious chunks. Drinking the last one will be bittersweet.

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