Thursday, January 31, 2013

Eating Out Recently

Hello :) Recently, over the past two or three weeks, I've eaten out a lot. I have been back to places I really enjoyed, and have tried some new ones as well. So I think I'll take some time to reflect and share. Maybe you'll find some inspiring dishes to recreate at home? 

Bread & Circus. I went here for lunch a few Mondays ago with my good friend Tara, and wanted to try their sandwich boxes, so ordered the mustard egg salad w/ avocado and tomato. Fluffy white bread, with this nourishing and well seasoned egg and salad combo was just what I felt like. A latte from Campos coffee (right next door), was welcome too.

Tara chose this garlicky potato and eggplant salad, yum!

The Wedge. I stumbled across this cafe the other day whilst walking around Glebe, and can imagine it's popular with the locals, tucked in just off the main road. My iced latte and a paper, were the perfect escape from a hot day...

Messina Gelato. At the beginning of the week, I met up with two wonderful bloggers for gelato, Heidi and Laura. It was so lovely to meet these ladies, and we had a great time, despite the rain! I tried the salted coconut mango and coconut and lychee flavours, loved them both, and will definitely be back for more scoops :)

The Cornersmith. I went back again on Tuesday, this time taking my sister Rosie for brunch. I was keen to try something else on offer! Going for the second time, I noticed a blackboard that mentioned where a lot of the local produce was from. From memory, I have a lady from Stanmore to thank for the basil!

Coffee to start.

This time I chose the mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, and macadamia pesto on sourdough. Wow. This plate made me very happy indeed :) Really want to try making something similar at home...

Rosie opted for the soft poached egg over dukkah roasted eggplant, with chickpeas and greens. She's such a healthy lady!

Bloodwood. Adrian and I keep meaning to have a drink at this trendy Newtown bar/restaurant, but whenever we go it's super busy. Luckily last night there was room for us. Sauvignon blanc for him, and a perfect south cooler cocktail for me which involved gin, green tea, cucumbers, and lime. Oh yes.

We were actually en route to the Enmore Theatre, as a few hours earlier I received an email to say I'd won a double pass to see Bat For Lashes! Her new album is my absolute favourite at the moment, but couldn't justify the ticket price, so I was very, very excited to win! To enter the day before, I had to write in 20 words or less why I wanted to win, and an acrostic poem did the trick...

All the 


Loaded people.
She (Natasha)

...well Natasha did not disappoint! She is an amazing performer live, and played most of her new album with older songs in there as well. Laura and All Your Gold were my favourite songs. And of course there was her sparkly costume designed by Romance Was Born. Very cool. We were lucky to be right at the front as well, and oh how I want a fringe like hers now! Two snaps from her performance...

And finally. Reuben Hills. I went here today for some lunch. It was too nice a day to be indoors, so Adrian and I wandered around Surry Hills, and I remembered wanting to go to this cafe for a while. They serve lots of fancy speciality coffee, so I felt like an amateur with my iced latte. To eat, I ordered the dirty bird, which was spiced grilled chicken, salsa, cheese, pickles, aioli on brioche. Quite the delicious treat! 

Adrian dressed appropriately for the cool, hipster vibes...

Looking back on all these places I've realised a few things...
1. I should probably start eating out less and start saving more! I plan to go to Europe in July :)
2. But at the same time, I'm so lucky to live in the Inner West, where there are so many great places to eat. They really do provide the perfect escape if I'm reading by myself or catching up with friends.
3. I drink coffee almost everyday! I think it's time to cut back, and start ordering tea (but at the same time $3 for a teabag is a bit silly!)

After all this eating out, I think I'll make myself a quinoa, kale, beetroot and parsley salad after my yoga class tomorrow morning. Hey, it's all about balance!

Have you been to any of these places or discovered some great cafes/restaurants lately?

Hannah x

Friday, January 25, 2013

Massaged Kale

Hello :) First things first. Earlier in the week I bought an iphone, which I'm very pleased with! Quite the upgrade from my previous phone, which boasted a flashlight as its best feature (which, don't get me wrong, was convenient at times). So now I have instagram, yay! My username is hfong14 if you'd like to follow me. I really like it as a visual diary of my life...& I'll be posting mostly foodie pics with some other photos from my everyday as well. And this means, I will probably be updating my blog more often, as photography can be more discrete on occasion ;)

Next up, the topic of kale. I'm sure like many of you have noticed, kale is everywhere. If there was a hipster factor of vegetables, kale would definitely be a 10. Everywhere I look at the markets, people have bunches of it in their bags, ready to take home. I tend to go through phases of food, and must say that kale hasn't been featuring on the menu all that often over the past few weeks. But then, I remembered a post I saw on how to make kale really yummy by massaging the leaves with olive oil, lemon & sea salt. The leaves apparently soften and break down, to create something that is softer, less bitter and very tasty. Learn more about massaged kale on the my new roots post here

So I bought a bunch recently and oh wow! It's so simple, but makes such a difference. The kale really does soften, and absorbs all the flavours you add. So just grab a bowl, add torn up leaves from a few stalks of kale, and add in some olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt. Scrunch and massage the leaves with your hands for about a minute and you're done! Here's some meals I've made in the past few days with my silky kale...

Yesterdays lunch. Spaghetti with homemade pesto, haloumi & kale. 

Dinner last night. Free range pork sausage (I really like these farmgate ones I buy from Eveleigh markets or Dr Earth in Newtown), with beetroot relish, carrot, red cabbage & kale. 

And dinner tonight used the rest of the kale, with other bits and pieces. There was a salad with the kale, beetroot, cabbage and basil, red quinoa, haloumi, and roasted carrots and potatoes.

I really enjoyed the salad, it didn't feel like I was eating a plate of raw vegetables. The trick I find is to chop or grate everything quite finely, add plenty of herbs and use lots of olive oil and sea salt.

Leftover salad for lunch tomorrow :)

You'll notice there's similar ingredients in all my meals, and not just the kale. After attending an inspiring talk/ panel discussion last week, called Whatever Happened To Waste Not Want Not? as part of Sydney Festival, I have definitely become more conscious of food waste and try to now buy less food so I can use it all up. I'll do a post about some useful tips I learnt soon :)

Have a great long weekend! Are you a kale massager?

Hannah x

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Garden Dinner Party Fun

Hello :) My friends and I are all in our 20's now, so having dinner parties seems appropriate, yes? Well one evening a little while ago, my friend Tara and I hosted just that, in her garden. We served an entree, main & dessert as well as a drink for each course. It was well planned, with the afternoon spent shopping for ingredients, preparing the food and decoration. Oh the stress! One friend Sabeth brought a fancy camera with an even fancier portrait lens, so the evening was well documented. I was super impressed with the quality of the photos... so without further ado, the highlights of the evening, which if I say so myself, was quite the success!

The setting!

We brought out a round table, added vintage chairs, as well as lace doilies, a rose from my garden, scarfs and candles.

Silk scarves draped over the clothesline oh so elegantly...

Close up. Name card were added as well. 


To drink we had rose gin fizz. Gin, soda water & a rose petal.

 There were two entrees, the first being crispy coconut potatoes, on a bed of baby kale and topped with dill. So crispy.. so delicious!

There was also broccolini w/ almonds & yoghurt dressing. Recipe adapted from smitten kitchen, we simply swapped asparagus for broccolini. 

Extra almond & yoghurt dressing and a salsa verde for the potatoes. Talk about flavour!

The main course! 

 Aperol spritz to drink.

As well, we had handmade fettucini w/ goats cheese & roast tomatoes. We took a while to prepare fresh pasta using my machine..sadly though we left the beautiful fettucini out for two hours before serving, and in the hot weather it clumped together. In the end it tasted okay, but not exactly what we hoped for! Lesson learnt ;)

Tara and I excitedly bringing it out...


Despite the main not being a complete success, we knew the dessert would make up for it. As soon as I spotted Heidi's chilled banana nut pie, it was on the menu. It sounded perfect...brilliant for the hot weather, something we could make a few hours before and leave in the fridge, and delicious and healthy at the same time. And it was so yummy! There weren't many leftovers...

An iced chai was also served to sip on.

Now to a few other photos from the night :) 

As you can see, we had lots of fun! Dinner parties are the perfect excuse to dress up, pop on some makeup, cook delicious food, catch up with friends, and, well...take lots of photos ;) I can't wait for the next one!

Hannah x

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cornersmith Cafe

Hello :) The Cornersmith cafe in Marrickville is one I've been wanting to visit for a while now. They make their own pickles, serve Mecca coffee, and use local produce. Yes, please! So on Thursday morning, I had a relaxed brunch there with two friends.

Here we are! 

The menu. All the options sounded so interesting and scrumptious!

What shall we get...?

I felt like eggs, and opted for the soft poached eggs with sourdough toast and green tomato chutney, with a side of free range fennel salami. Kazu ordered the same. It was so good! 

Jesse got the dukkah roasted eggplant with chickpeas, greens, and sumac yoghurt. Yummo.

Apricot, cardamon and cinnamon milkshake.

Loved this place, I'll definitely be back. This week I've enjoyed eating out a few times this week...going back to favourites including Bread and Circus and Jamie's Italian. I keep meaning to check out The Grounds in Alexandria...have any of you been? 

Have a great weekend :) I'm about to start slow cooking a lamb shoulder for tonight...excitement!

Hannah x

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Broad Beans, Meatballs, Flatbread

Hello :) One of the reasons I love blogging, is that you are able to evolve. My eating habits have certainly shifted over the past few years since starting this blog. I started out as a vegetarian, having fun experimenting with lentils, chickpeas, tofu and all things quinoa. But now, even though I still eat all those foods, I've also introduced meat back into my diet. In doing so though, I have become more conscious of where my meat comes from. 

I try to buy grass-fed/free range from local butchers where possible, and it's helpful I work at markets where there's some great stalls. There's the free range butcher stall at Orange Grove markets where I go on Saturdays, as well as my friend Craig at the wootoon valley meats stall at Marrickville markets. Dr Earth in Newtown also has a good selection. 

This year I would like to learn and research more about the benefits of grass fed meat etc, as well as learn how to cook more meat dishes. I'm also very interested if any of you have recently gone from vegetarianism to meat eating again, or even vice versa? 

Anyway! I will explore more in future posts...for now, a recipe!

So I have treated myself  to a new cookbook. Hugh's Three Good things...on a plate. Hugh from River Cottage, a fantastic show I have briefly mentioned before. Here's the book (which is autographed...oh yeah).

 I love this cookbook, a lot! The recipe list is extensive, and as the title suggests focuses on three main ingredients with every dish. Just the kinda recipes I like to make....simple, lots of fresh ingredients and combinations that seem to work really well. A bonus is there's a photo with every recipe, which means every dish looks worth making! So when you're next in a bookstore, I'd suggest having a browse through this one! And without further ado, the first recipe I have tried recently...

Recipe: Broad Beans, Meatballs, Flatbread (adapted from Hugh's Three Good Things)
750g-1kg fresh broad beans (I used frozen)
1 tablespoon olive oil
A couple of squeezes of lemon juice
Sea salt and pepper
for the meatballs
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
10-12 black peppercorns
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
500g reasonably coarse lamb mince (not too lean)
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
about 250g spiced sausages
to serve
Flatbreads, roti, pitta breads etc
1. Make your meatballs. Heat a dry frying pan over medium heat, add the cumin, fennel and coriander seeds, and the caraway, if using, with the peppercorns, and toast until fragrant, about a minute. Tip into a mortar and leave to cool, then pound with the pestle to a fine powder. Mix with the paprika, cayenne and salt until well blended.
2. Put the lamb into a bowl. Add the spice mix with the garlic, and mix everything together with your hands until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours, to allow the flavours to develop.
3. Form the mixture into small meatballs. You may want to use half the quantity now, and keep the rest in the fridge for another day or freeze it for another meal.
4. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Pod the broad beans (don't do this yet if using frozen broad beans), add to the pan, return to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes until tender. Drain, and if using frozen broad beans, run them under cold water before popping the beans out of their thicker skin. Small beans don't need to be skinned.
5. Heat a large frypan over a medium heat and add the oil. When hot, add the meatballs (or sausage chunks) and cook, turning often until well browned all over and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Tip in the beans and toss them in the spicy fat. Cook for a minute longer, then give the whole thing a spritz of lemon juice and add a little salt and pepper if you fancy.
6. Warm your flatbreads, pile the meaty bean mixture on top, along with any pan juices, give it a final squeeze of lemon, and serve. You may like to add thick plain yoghurt as well.

I've made these twice. The first time I made meatballs, as well as my coconut curry crispy potatoes, and the second time I chopped up lamb & mint sausages for a quicker meal. It was my first time making meatballs, and they were super tasty with all those spices! The perfect meal for sharing with friends & sitting outside in the warm weather...

Hannah x

Friday, January 4, 2013

Crispy Coconut Curry Potatoes

Hello :) Time to celebrate the weekend with some crispy potatoes! After a few tips from a friend I have now perfected potato baking. The trick is to cut the potatoes relatively small, boil them initially & let them steam before popping them in the oven. The addition of coconut oil, curry powder and sea salt is truly delicious!

Recipe: Crispy Coconut Potatoes
5-6 small potatoes, peeled and cut into thirds or quarters
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Pinch of curry powder
Pinch of sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. In the meantime, bring a medium pot of water to the boil and add the potatoes. Turn the heat down let the potatoes simmer for 8-10 minutes. 
2. Drain the potatoes and let them steam in a sieve for 5 minutes.
3. Transfer the potatoes to a baking tray. At this point you may want to rough them up with a fork, to increase the surface area (this helps them crisp up). Mix in the coconut oil (don't worry if it isn't in its liquid state, as it'll melt), and sprinkle on curry powder and sea salt to taste.
4. Bake for about 40 minutes until golden and crispy. 
5. You may like to serve them with chopped dill or with a rocket salad.

Have a great weekend...

Hannah x

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Summer Break

Hello :) A bit of a catch up post, but I shall post nonetheless! Some Christmas snaps and some more of my recently getaway...

Christmas day was spent at home cooking & spending time with family. My dad was given socks (what else?), which inspired me to create sock buns in my families hair! All you need is an old sock with the toes cut off and a youtube tutorial (there's plenty). Here's my mum with her sock cool!

For Christmas dinner, I roasted a free range chicken and lots of vegetables. It was my first time roasting a chicken and with the help of Jamie Oliver it turned out super well! Here's my vegetables...potatoes, baby yellow carrots, red onions and plenty of thyme and rosemary :)

On boxing day we drove up to Cronulla to have dinner with family & then we stayed at my Uncles house for a few days, as he was on holidays. Adrian came too. No complaints about our view! 

The weather was beautiful everyday, and so went to the beach a few times. One must remember their hat and sunnies!

Relaxing in the shade...

My gorgeous sister.

An iced latte and summer reading a cafe. 

Spag bowl. Delicious!

We went on a nice walk around Kurnell. 

Brunch involving smoked salmon, sausages, corn and black tea.

A favourite photo :)

I love these short breaks...reading, swimming, cooking & watching a DVD or two, or in our case the Lord of the Rings trilogy :) 

Hannah x