Advertisements
RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: March 2017

Three Blue Ducks

IMG_5866

Three Blue Ducks is an intriguing restaurant in an intriguing location in the lovely seaside suburb of Bronte in Sydney.

My long time friend Ms M was visting Sydney, her former home, from Cleveland Ohio, where she has lived for the last thirty plus years. We catch up every visit, and it’s lovely to hear her Australian accent to which she has stayed true all these years!

We met at the restaurant, tucked away in a suburban street, almost easy to miss. However the location is deceptive – much bigger than you think,  the restaurant is spread over 2 shop fronts with a little alleyway in between. Melbourne quirk meets Sydney trend – the alleyway is vibrantly decorated with street art and the ineterior is rustic and casual with bar and table dining.

The menu is flexible, designed for sharing or not, depending on the diners’ mood. Ms M and I shared some dishes with a Middle Eastern bent.

We started with sourdough bread from the famous Iggy’s Bread in Bronte,  with house-made cultured butter, which as a butter nut I found utterly delicious!

We shared a “Big” roast barramundi, pumpkin, kale & chickpea salad and harissa. The barramundi was crisp skinned but still moist. The harissa was spicy rather than overly hot. I’m not a huge fen of kale so I missed out on this element of the dish.IMG_5860

The next “Big” dish was my favourite: pressed lamb shoulder, babaganoush, israeli cous cous salad & flatbread. The lamb was compressed into a rectangular slice, and was soft enough to eat with the proverbial spoon. It was served with a lovely flatbread to mop up the babaganoush and the lamb pieces.

IMG_5857

Along with these dishes we had the “Small” roast beetroot, goats curd, pickled carrot, grains & yoghurt, heirloom beets of different colours with a slightly sweet curd and an interesting carrot pickle.

IMG_5862

We finished with orange blossom baklava, berry labneh, fruit & pistachio, an additional Middle Eastern twist on a Middle Eastern sweet, perfect as a shared after dinner treat.

It was a great venue for a catch-up. Ms M was delighted to be eating out in Sydney, in seaside Bronte,  sampling the current food vibe in foodie Sydney. A nice memory to take back to snowy Cleveland!

Three Blue Ducks is located at:

Bronte
141-143 Macpherson st
Bronte NSW 2024
02 9389 0010

IMG_5865

Advertisements

John’s Chermoula Chicken

 

 

Another glorious autumn day in March, the warm and languid days more like an Indian summer. I was  at Palm Beach, visiting the Architect to celebrate the birthday of the Delegator. I am always in for a treat on a Palm Beach visit – not only a lovely view but always scrumptious food.

Thr Architect had made his famous orange and almond cake, always delicious, but the real surprise was that the Delegator himself had made a beautiful chicken dish based on that wonderful spice concoction, chermoula paste. It was unctuous and fragrant, and accompanied by couscous, grilled asparagus, vine ripened tomatoes and a little aoli, made a lovely lunch dish.

The Delegator used Christine Manfield’s Chermoula Paste  available from specialty grocers such as Simon Johnson in Australia. It’s not that difficult to make your own, if you can’t access this paste or similar.

Here is my rough approximation of the recipe as told to me by the Delegator.

Ingredients

12 chicken thighs fillets, skin on or off, depending on your personal preference

1 tbls of Chris Mansfield  Chermoula Paste or see here for a link to a Neil Perry recipe

1 tbls extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

3 lemon halves

A few sprigs of lemon thyme

Sea salt and ground black pepper to season

A dozen slices of prosciutto

Method

Marinate the chicken thigh fillets in a large bowl with the Chermoula Paste, olive oil and the juice of the lemon. Leave for a few hours or preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Remove the chicken mixture and place in an ovenproof baking dish. Add the 3 cut lemon halves and lemon thyme to the mixture, and  season with salt and pepper. Finish by layering the prosciutto slices on the top. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

The chicken will give up a lot of juice, along with the lemons, so it’s great to serve this chicken dish with couscous or rice, or even crusty bread.

Well done to the Delegator for his inventive and delicious dish!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig and Frangipane Muffins

 

 

Here’s another muffin recipe – I’m always experimenting with ingredients and tweaking recipes to create new taste and texture sensations.

Figs are plentiful in early autumn in Sydney, and a colleague brought me some beautiful bounty from the Southern Highlands from her very own fig tree. Lucky Ms L to have a tree bearing such luscious treats!

This recipe is based on one from Mike McKenearney’s “Kitchen by Mike” see here for details – with a bit of method thrown in from Matt Stone’s Greenhouse Muffins and my own flavour combo of fresh figs, stem ginger and frangipane.

Ingredients

150g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of sea salt

80g butter, softened

65ml vegetable oil

150g caster sugar

2 free-range eggs

75ml buttermilk (or ordinary milk with a good squeeze of lemon juice added)

6 fresh figs

6 pieces stem ginger, finely chopped

1/2 quantity of frangipane

A couple of teaspoonfuls of a good jam – apricot works well

Handful of flaked almonds, toasted

Frangipane

100g unsalted butter

100g caster sugar

1 free-range egg

Method

These quantities make 6 big muffins. You could probably get 8 or so daintier muffins from the mixture.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a six-hole muffin tin with baking paper or paper cases.

In an electric mixer, whisk the butter, oil and sugar until smooth, and the sugar has dissolved. The mixture should look creamy.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Slowly add the buttermilk or lemon-soured milk.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into another bowl and then add  1/2 cup of the flour mixture and whisk on a low speeed until smooth. Be careful not to overmix and this will toughen the muffins.

Fold in the remaining flour mixture, again being careful not to overmix.

Chop 4 of the figs into quarters and then half each quarter. Carefully fold the chopped figs and the chopped stem ginger into the muffin mixture and then spoon evenly into the baking papers or muffin cases.

To make the frangipane, cream the butter and caster sugar in a food processor, add the egg and ground almonds and process until smooth. (You will only need 1/2 this quantity, if that).

Mix a good teaspoonful of the frangipane into each muffin. It doesn’t matter if it’s not mixed in too well – it’s nice to have an almond surprise in the centre of the muffin!

Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the muffin tin for 10 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

When the muffins are cool, brush the top of each muffin with jam, then sprinkle on some toasted flaked almonds.

I decorated with slices of the remaining 2 figs. It would be nice too, to bake some fig slices on the top of the muffins. My track record of having baked fruit pieces stay on top of muffins and cakes is not good! They always sink. So I content myself with decorating the baked goods with fresh fruit.

Serve on their own or maybe with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt.

 

Baklava Traybake

img_5654

Here’s a simple version of baklava. It’s a no fuss version when you just want to throw a few ingredients together to make a sticky sweet treat.

It’s rustic – meaning I was more interested in the taste then the look of baklava – but taste wins out on visuals if  you’re short on time.

My version uses half the ingredients, with only one layer of nut filling in between the two filo layers. For a more traditional baklava, double the ingredients and make two nut layers in between three filo layers.

Ingredients
300g walnuts
50g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
60g unsalted butter, melted
Half of a 375g packet filo pastry
Syrup
110g caster sugar
60g honey
30ml lemon juice

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan-forced.

To make the syrup, combine the sugar, honey and 90ml water in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3 minutes, then set aside to cool.

To make the filling, process the walnuts in a food processor until reasonably finely chopped – you  don’t want big pieces but you don’t want a nut paste either! Add the sugar and cinnamon and pulse to just combine.

Using a pastry brush, grease the base and sides of an 18cm x 28cm slice tin with butter.

Unroll the filo on a large chopping board. Keep filo covered with a clean, slightly damp tea towel to prevent the sheets drying out. Brush the first sheet with butter, then place it in the tin. Repeat until you have used half the filo sheets. Scatter the nut mixture over the sheets.

Brush the next sheet with melted butter and layer on top of the mixture. Repeat with the remaining sheets. Press the layered filo gently to compress slightly. Brush the top well with melted butter.

Place the baklava in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm to make it easier to score. Using a small sharp knife, score the top few layers of filo into diamond shapes. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cover the top with foil if the filo looks like it’s browning too quickly.

Remove the tin from the oven, and while still hot, pour the honey syrup over the baklava in the tin. Leave for a couple of hours or until the syrup is absorbed, and baklava is cool.

Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava into pieces along the score lines. It keeps well, covered, in the fridge for a week, if you can resist that long!

img_5650

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: