Monday, April 23, 2012

Ren meets Burger and some other stuff

I am all about finding out the best foodie haunts and a couple of friends asked me where to get the best pizza...Well I have said it once and I will say it again...My pick would be iCarusi. So you want Pizza? I am talking real Pizza non of that call this number for a free large pizza with cheese in the crust. If so then you have to check out iCarusi located on Holmes street Brunswick.
I've been a couple of times and everytime I tell myself to leave room for the chocolate "I am going to melt in your mouth" pizza. But I am always full, but there is always next time.

Anyway I know the owner / pizzaiola extradonaire Tristan Care (pictured above) and asked him a few questions about his amazing and successful pizza shop iCarusi.

1. What made you enter Hospitality?
Probably growing up working at my dads cafe

2. What is the most talked about pizza at iCarusi ?
Pizza for a friend(fiore di latte, pumpkin, pine nuts, rocket & goats cheese), also the mixed chocolate and strawberry calzoncino .... ( ahhh it's a sign I have to go and order it).

3. What is your favorite pizza topping?
   Good sauce and sopressa (sopressa  is an Italian aged salami, produced with pork, lard, salt, pepper, spices and sometimes garlic).

4. Must haves in the kitchen?
Sharp knives :) (I totally agree).

5. Any advice for people that want to work in the gourmet pizza trade? 
Source out good fresh produce suppliers. And treat your staff well, they are the face of your business.

Make sure you check out iCarusi 46 Holmes Street Brunswick, I am so ordering that chocolate and  strawberry calzon next time.

For those of you that follow me on Facebook will know that recently I consumed my first burger in 3 years (maybe a little longer).

The reason I stopped was for health reasons and environmental and well I didn't want to eat a cow. However I've always had a soft spot for the burger and thought I'd give myself another go.. (Bearing in mind that the meat is organic and of high quality).
So 2 days ago I ate the best burger ever!!! ...Was it the herb mayonnaise? Or the soft bun? Or maybe the complete beef burger package and the memories of walking to Danny 's burger joint in Fitzroy with my sisters and  cousins. Whatever it was I may have another one. ( for those that are vegetarian don't worry I'll be posting the most delicious and easy Vegi burger below). 

Danny's Burgers is located 358/360 St Georges Road Fitzroy North VIC 3068
(03) 9481 5847 and another amazing burger place that I am yet to try but have been hearing some

 amazing news about is called "Huxtaburger" (picture above) located  on Smith street Collingwood.

" Ren Meets Burger"
500g organic high quality beef mince
1 onion, finely diced
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tbsp BBQ sauce
2 carrots, grated
2 eggs
½ cup breadcrumbs
Salt & ground black pepper

1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.

2. Divide mixture into 12 portions and roll into patties.

3. BBQ burgers on a grill on medium heat for 7-8 minutes on both sides and serve on toasted buns with sliced tomato, beetroot and rocket , mayonnaise and pretty much anything your heart desires!!!
"Be good to yourself” Vegi Burger (pictured above)

 Ingredients (serves 4)
•1/2 cup (130g) mayonnaise
•1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice
•1 clove garlic, crushed
* Celery, finely diced
* 1 small radish finely diced
•¼ cup of Parsley, Dill chopped
•Salt and pepper

•1 cup cold mashed potato
•1 onion finely diced
•400g canned brown lentils, rinsed, drained
•400g canned chick pea , rinsed, drained
•3 tbs tomato chutney ( if you can’t find tomato chutney sweet chilli sauce works well).
•1 tbs mild Indian curry paste
•1 egg
•¼ cup of fresh parsley , chopped
•1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
•1 tbs vegetable oil
•Salt and pepper

1.To make the dressing, place the mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic celery, radish,and herbs in bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
2.Place the mashed potato, onion, lentils, tomato chutney, curry paste, parsley, egg and breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Use your hands to bring the mixture together.
3.Divide the mixture into 4 patties, using additional breadcrumbs to help shape the patties.
4.Heat the oil in a large fry pan over medium heat. Cook the patties for 2-3 minutes each side or until golden and warmed through.
5.Serve on burger bun with mayonnaise dressing and your favorite trimmings…YUM!!

The one thing I love apart from cooking is inspiring people to cook my recipes...I love it. I guess I hope my passion transends to that person when they cook...maybe!
Anyway I posted a delicious recipe of a Vanilla Pomegranate Cake. Pomegranate's are in season. so really worthwhile getting out and using some it is a superb fruit and so verstaile not only in the recipe below but with plain yohurt as a topping and SO delicious in whipped cream with crushed vanilla meringues.

 Desiree Larner who follows me on facebook and who I worked with at Optus made this amazing cake that I posted on my Laughing Chef Cookery School Facebook Page. She also  took some really beautiful photo's.  The reason I love her photo's is you can actually see the passion she has for A. Cooking and B.Photography Thanks Desiree really beautiful pictures.(picture below  Desiree Larner with Husband Ben and beautiful girls Aurelia right and Isabella left).

Vanilla & Pomegranate cake
200g butter (at room temperature)
... 200g caster sugar
3 eggs
zest 1 lemon plus juice of ½
140g self-raising flour
100g plain flour
½ tsp Good Quality vanilla extract

juice ½ lemon (use the other ½ of the one for the cake)
2 pomegranates , juice of one, seeds of one (or 100ml pomegranate juice, 110g pack pomegranate seeds)
85g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract

1.Heat oven to 160C/140C fan. Grease and line a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin.
Beat the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the lemon zest and juice and vanilla extract. Fold in the flours with a metal spoon until well mixed. Transfer to the cake tin, smooth the top, then bake for 50 mins until risen and golden.
2. To make the syrup, mix the lemon juice with the pomegranate juice, caster sugar and vanilla, then heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and reduce slightly until syrupy. Remove from the heat and cool slightly, then tip in the pomegranate seeds.
3. Remove the cake from the oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes before poking holes all over it with a skewer and pouring over the pomegranate syrup. Enjoy warm ...Yum!!!

Don't ask me how she had the time to take these amazing photographs of the Pomergrante cake as well as making the cake. (She has 2 little girls ;Aurelia and Isabella) runs her own business called Unique Effects. Just goes to show you that anything is possible!!!

Check out Desiree's business  ..Unique effects on Facebook you will find these absolutely stunning Brooch Bouquet that are all hand made. (pictured below).

Next time it will be all about what to cook for the kids....As I have 2 nephews and 1 neice I love hearing the stories my sister's tell of meal times . I will also be adding some recipes and favourite dishes from other mum's on successful meal times.

Until next time get in that kitchen and have fun!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

One a penny Two a penny Hot Cross Bun....

Easter has come so quickly …which is great as that means I can bake Hot cross buns and eat the Cadbury mini eggs. YUM!!!!
 Although my sister Eloise stated “you can eat a Hot cross bun whenever”. True, but in all it’s Easter Tradition I make Hot Cross Buns and usually hand them out freshly baked.

My girlfriend Nadia knows how much I love all things "foodie related" so she took a picture at work of these amazing Easter Eggs from France ...Umm Nadia where is mine ? :) But thank you for the picture.

Now if you are not that crazy with fruit or currants etc in your Hot Cross Buns then don’t worry just omit them and add your favourite chocolate chips. Yum!!!
The below recipe is also great for lovers of DAIRY FREE recipes .

HOT CROSS BUN or as my nephew Remy calls them "HOT BOT BUN" (Remy pictured above enjoying a Hot Cross Bun).

•1 1/2 cups (375ml) warm milk (Dairy free use Rice Milk as I find it works better).
•2 tsp (7g/1 sachet) dried yeast
•1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
•60g butter, melted (Nuttelex dairy free spread)
•1 egg, lightly whisked
•4 1/2 cups (675g) plain flour
•1 tsp salt
•3 tsp mixed spice / cinnamon
•1/4 cup (45g) currants
•1/3 cup (80ml) cold water
•1/2 cup (170g) apricot jam

1.Combine the milk, yeast and 1 tbs of sugar in a small bowl. Set aside in a warm place for 10 minutes or until frothy.
2.Combine the milk mixture, butter and egg in a jug and whisk to combine. Combine 4 cups (600g) of flour, salt, mixed spice and remaining sugar in a bowl. Add the sultanas, currants and mixed peel and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the milk mixture and use a wooden spoon to stir until just combined, then use your hands to bring the dough together.
3.Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with a damp tea towel and place in a warm place for 1 hour or until dough doubles in size.
4.Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a baking tray . Punch the dough down with your fist. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Divide dough into 16 even pieces and shape each portion into a ball. Arrange dough portions, side by side, in the prepared pan. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes or until dough has risen 2cm.
5.Meanwhile, mix the remaining flour and water together in a small bowl until a smooth paste forms. Place in a small plastic bag and snip off the end. Pipe a continuous line down the centre of each row of buns, lengthways and widthways, to form crosses. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 180°C and bake for a further 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through (buns are ready when they sound hollow when tapped on the base).
6.Turn onto a wire rack. Place the jam in a small saucepan over high heat. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until jam melts. Strain through a fine sieve. Brush hot jam over the buns. Serve warm with butter, or toasted.

Well Daylight savings has well and truly ended and I am happy that the sun will be up at 6:30am and with these cold chilly mornings come cold chilly nights. But there is a bonus to that as well as there is nothing better on a chilly night than something warm and delicious to eat. In saying this I went around to my good friend Michelle’s house and she was cooking up a storm. (Michelle pictured above).
Now most people hate cooking for me it is mainly due to the fact that I am a chef; but honestly I love it. I love the passion when someone cooks for me and above anything else the story behind the meal.
Michelle made me Stuffed Zucchini's which had rice and meat inside and was delicious. The thing I love about eating home cooking is  I love where the recipe oringates  from and the pleasure it brings to the cook making it. But above all of that I love the taste.
Michelle use white rice and added several herbs tomato paste to a serving of cooking mince meat with onions . Michelle then goes about  stuffing each Zucchini with the filling after she had carefully removed the inside from each.
Each juicy zucchini is plugged up with a tomato so the filling doesn't  leak out  (which I thought was genius) then immersed in a  large pot with water and tomato paste and they are ready when the rice is cooked.

Michelle brought me over a bowl and what I loved was the liquid that the zucchini had been cooking in turned into a thickish sort of soup ...absolutely delicious.  Thank you Michelle it was absolutely delicious!!!.
 (Full recipe to come)

If you follow me on Facebook Laughingchefcookeryschool then you will know I have been wanting Madagascar Vanilla Paste at $36 for a 118ml glass bottle  for a while now.
Well on Thursday I went to pick up my sister Natalie from work and she said "I have a pressie for you"! I replied in a high pitch voice , "What is it?"... It turned out my little Sis follows me on facebook (of course) and knew about my love for the Vanilla paste and went out and brought it for me. I am so excited to use this, for those  that are not aware Madagascar is one of many forms of the Vanilla Bean Family and when cooking with it you experience the true taste of the Vanilla Bean. Thanks Nat cannot wait to make, Biscotti, Ricotta and Lemon cakes and my favourite Italian Fluffy Meringue.

Also thank you to my beautiful Nephew Addison who is 4 years of age who said "Renee I have a surprise for you"! He then produced this Lego Chef below which I am in love. with .. it is the little things in life that make you smile.

My girlfriend Daniela went to Perth for a weddding last weekend and she took some pics of the scenery and one just reminded me of my childhood as I have a love for Ferris Wheels (and Fairy Floss).

Next blog I will be putting up some Hearty dishes to cook which are super easy as well as some really easy bread recipe (do not fear yeast it is your friend), and a cinnamon and Blueberry scroll recipe.
Have a safe and Happy Easter or Buona Pasqua a Tutti.