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Bills in Sydney’s Darlinghurst: Fab Food, Fab Vibe

 

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I’m a long time fan of Bill Granger and his food. His iconic first restaurant, bills in Darlinghurst, is a favourite place for breakfast or lunch – and it’s just around the corner from where I work.

Bill is an Aussie who now has restaurants worldwide, which all reflect his ethos for food and dining. When you walk into bills in Darlinghurst, the vibe is friendly, warm and generous. No pretensions here! The communal table is great, allowing everyone to share in each others’ dining experiences as you observe the delicious dishes being served to fellow diners.

As Bill says: ‘This is where it all began, in 1992. bills Darlinghurst is where I did my growing up. The miniscule kitchen and tiny dining room in one of Darlo’s old backstreet pub buildings set the tone for what we still do today. Local by-laws allowed us only a few seats – hence the now much-copied communal table where everyone ate together, reading the newspaper or striking up a conversation with the person enjoying scrambled eggs next to them. Today, it’s still a simple Sydney corner café, serving a menu of bills classics.’

There are some dishes that bills is famous for – creamy scrambled eggs, utterly moreish ricotta pancakes with banana and honeycomb butter and sweet corn fritters with roast tomato, spinach and bacon. These two latter dishes are breakfast through to lunch and I’ve had both at either end of the morning! Bills burgers are pretty good too, the wagyu burger, with grilled swiss, pickled green chilli, herb mayo, rocket and fries is one of the Darlo offerings.

Another favourite on bills menus is the Aussie pavlova, and, as readers of other of my posts know, that’s a version of meringue of which I am very fond, possibly even obsessed… The Darlo bills version is a brown sugar pavlova, with rhubarb, pistachio and rosewater yoghurt.  I ate this recently and had to go home and instantly recreate my own version, see my Brown Sugar Pav post here.

The rest is in the photos. I’m regret I don’t have a photo of the scrambled eggs or wagyu burger – oh well, I will need to visit bills again soon I guess!

433 Liverpool St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

http://www.bills.com.au/

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Jamie Oliver Smoothie Pancakes with Berries, Banana, Yoghurt and Nuts

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Super food, super easy and super good! Jamie’s latest book Everyday Super Food is a bit of a revelation, crammed full of beautiful, colourful, easy recipes that are really healthy.

The research, the nutritional information, and the carefully planned and written recipes make this book a must-read and a must-cook. I’m big on flavour, and what I’ve cooked so far is bursting with it …I can’t  wait to cook more!

If you love cooking, love really tasty food, and would like to feel that you are doing your bit to eat healthily, then get Everday Super Food. It’s common sense, not faddish, and do-able!

I made Smoothie Pancakes with Berries, Banana, Yoghurt and Nuts today. I went for blueberries, next time I’ll try raspberries. I didn’t realize till I was making the recipe that there was no sugar – the blueberries are sweet enough – even for the sweet tooth of this quirky writer! The drizzle of honey on the pancakes themselves when serving adds that little extra sweetness which is nice. Here is Jamie’s recipe very slightly tweaked.

Ingredients

320g blueberries or raspberries

1 ripe banana

170ml semi-skimmed milk

1 large free-range egg

250g wholemeal self raising flour

To serve

4 tbs natural yoghurt

Sprinkle of ground cinnamon

30g mixed unsalted nuts, chopped

Drizzle of honey

Method

Blitz half the berries, peeled banana, milk, egg and flour in a food processor or blender to make a smooth pancake batter. Fold in the remaining berries. Place a large non-stick frying pan on a medium high heat. When hot, put some batter into the frying pan to make large pancakes or small ones. I went for smallish. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side, or until crisp and browned. Jamie suggests flipping them for an additional 30 seconds each side to ensure they are super crispy. This seemed to work for me.

You can serve whole, or slice the pancakes in half so you can see the fruit. Serve with a spoonful or two of yoghurt, a sprinkling of cinnamon, some chopped nuts and a drizzle of honey over the whole lot. Delish.

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Jamie Oliver’s Hummingbird Cake

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This has to be the best cake: it’s super easy, looks spectacular and is really, really delish!

I have been keen to make this cake from Jamie Oliver’s great new book Comfort Food. It’s a special occasion cake and the special occasion it was made for, was the (early) birthday celebration for Katrina, friend and colleague, newly wed and faithful follower of this blog.

Here is the website page: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/recipe/hummingbird-cake/

I love this book and thoroughly recommend it – if you haven’t acquired a Jamie book yet, this is a lovely one with which to start your library.

Here is the recipe “un-tweaked”as Jamie’s instructions are accurate and really easy to follow.

Jamie suggests serving “in a bluebell wood on a fallen tree”; my garden, in leafy Rozelle, with a riot of over grown spring flowers, was my setting. And there was even a humming bird…

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Ingredients

250 ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing

350 g self-raising flour

1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon

350 g golden caster sugar

4 medium-sized very ripe bananas

1 x 425 g tin of pineapple chunks

2 large free-range eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

50 g pecans

For the icing:

400 g icing sugar

150 g unsalted butter, (at room temperature)

200 g cream cheese

2 limes

For the brittle:

100 g caster sugar

50 g pecans

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Grease and line two 23cm round cake tins. Sift the flour and cinnamon into a mixing bowl, then add the sugar and a large pinch of sea salt. Peel the bananas and mash them up with a fork in another bowl. Drain and finely chop the pineapple and add to the bananas with the oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix until combined, then fold into the dry mixture until smooth. Finely chop the pecans and gently fold in, then divide the batter evenly between your prepared tins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until risen, golden and the sponges spring back when touched lightly in the centre. Run a knife around the edge of the tins, then leave to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, to make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a free-standing electric mixer, add the butter and beat until pale and creamy. Add the cream cheese, finely grate in the zest of 1 lime and add a squeeze of juice, then beat until just smooth – it’s really important not to over-mix it. Keep in the fridge until needed. To make a brittle topping, place the caster sugar and a splash of water in a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat. Shake flat and don’t stir it, just swirl the pan occasionally until dissolved and lightly golden. Add the pecans and a pinch of salt, spoon around to coat, and when nicely golden, pour onto a sheet of oiled greaseproof paper to set (check out the how-to video below). Once cool, smash up to a dust (you’ll need about half to top the cake – save the rest for sprinkling over ice cream.

To assemble the cake, place one sponge on a cake stand and spread with half the icing. Top with the other sponge, spread over the rest of the icing, then grate over the zest of the remaining lime. Scatter over the brittle dust and decorate with a few edible flowers, such as violas, borage or herb flowers, if you feel that way inclined. With a cup of tea on the side, this will make everyone who eats it extremely happy. Serve in a bluebell wood on a fallen tree, as you do.

 

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Breakfast with the Doctors: Buttermilk Pancakes and French Toast

Two amazing breakfasts were cooked for a very lucky Quirky in the Hunter Valley on the weekend by the debonair Doctor M and his partner in cuisine, DD. The fourth member of band, the senior rock chick, was another appreciative recipient.

Bill Granger’s buttermilk pancakes and French toast were lifted to new heights by the thoughtful recipe tweakings of these two experienced cooks. I don’t know whether their prowess with the frying pan is down to professional dietary knowledge, or familiarization with so many of Sydney’s eateries or cooking on demand for several discerning male offspring… my money’s on the latter!

Bill Granger’s Buttermilk Pancakes

Ingredients

250 g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
750 ml (3 cups) buttermilk
75 g (2½ oz) unsalted butter, melted
unsalted butter, extra, for greasing the pan


Method

1. Stir the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together in a bowl.
2. Add the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter and whisk to combine.
3. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and brush a small portion of butter over the base.
4. For each pancake, ladle 80 ml (1/3 cup) of batter into the pan and cook for about 2 minutes, until bubbles appear on the surface.
5. Turn the pancakes over and cook for another minute.
6. Transfer to a plate and keep warm while cooking the rest of the pancakes.


Serving suggestions

Serve the pancakes in stacks with the plums, a jug of maple syrup and some yoghurt. Makes 16

Doctor M and DD served with grilled plums, strawberries, low fat yoghurt and honey.

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Bill Granger’s French Toast

Ingredients

3 eggs
185ml (3/4cup) milk
8 thick slices of brioche or panettone (Doctor M used sourdough bread – worked well)
30g (1oz) unsalted butter

Method

Whisk the eggs and milk together. Place the brioche or panettone in a shallow dish and pour the milk mixture over the top. Allow the milk to soak in thoroughly, then turn the bread over and soak the other side.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium to high heat and melt half of the butter. Add four slices of bread to the pan and fry for about one minute, until golden. Turn over and cook until the other side is golden. Repeat with the remaining bread.

Bill’s recipe suggests serving with berry sauce and a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Doctor M served with banana, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, low fat ricotta, low fat yoghurt and honey.

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