Thursday, October 30, 2014

La Luna Bistro, Carlton

For Tim's birthday, I took him to La Luna Bistro, in Carlton.  La Luna is the restaurant owned by Adrian Richardson, of Good Chef, Bad Chef fame (yes, Adrian is the "bad" chef).

In case you can't guess from the décor, La Luna specialises in meat dishes.  The only vegetarian dishes here are the sides.  Gathering from what other people were ordering, we figured that the steaks must be the most popular item, but wow, they were huge steaks.

La Luna does two sittings each night - a 6pm sitting and an 8.15pm sitting.  We took the 6pm sitting as we'd be starving by 8.15pm, and figured if we didn't get to dessert by then, we could go somewhere else in Carlton.

Our series of black-bedecked waiters were very friendly and we did not want for anything.    If you are trying to run two sittings like clockwork, this is a good thing.

For entrée, I ordered one of the daily specials, a kingfish ceviche ($21.50):

I ordered this because I knew it would be fairly light (leaving room for more!), and I enjoyed its clean, fresh flavours.

Tim ordered another daily special as his starter, a barbecue pork rib ($10.50):  

Tim loved this, as the meat was melting off the bone and covered in spicy sauce.  I got a sneaky taste of this and also thought it was good.  The sauce was definitely on the hotter side, as Tim's head started to sweat (a sure sign that what he is eating is hot).

For main, I went for the slow cooked goat with beans, spinach and carrots ($41.50):

I chose the goat because I have never had it before and it is not common on restaurant menus here.  The goat was moist and soft, and melted off the bones.  The rich tomato based sauce complemented the meat and vegetables well, and was perfect for mopping up with the bread that we received.

Tim ordered the roast pork with crackling ($21.50):

He was also very happy with his choice.  I quite enjoyed the crispy crackling.  Again, this dish comes with a sauce that just begs to be mopped up with bread.

In our absent mindedness, we forgot to order the side dishes that we chose, but it didn't matter - we were very full with what we had.

For dessert, Tim ordered tiramisu (Adrian's classic ($18.50):

H enjoyed it, and I also enjoyed the morsel that I tasted.

I went for the chocolate pudding with vanilla icecream and honeycomb ($18.50):

Let's be honest - the overwhelming star of this dish was the gooey chocolate pudding:

The vanilla icecream and honeycomb (which was no more than a few smears of toffee on the plate) were bit players.  And yes, this pudding tasted as sensational as it looks.

To drink, we started off with a couple of glasses of prosecco ($11.50), followed by a beer for Tim and a cider for me ($8.50 each), and finished off with coffees ($3.50): 

We enjoyed our La Luna experience and would definitely go back.

320 Rathdowne St
Carlton North VIC 3054
Ph: (03) 9349 4888

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WWDH - Vegetable Stir Fry

We are going healthy this week at Wednesdays with Donna Hay, as Margaret has chosen Donna's Vegetable Stir Fry from p70 of Modern Classics I.  The recipe is also online here.

This recipe is just what is says on the tin - a large variety of vegetables stir fried with soy sauce and a small amount of sugar.

I generally like my stir fries a bit saucier, but that could easily be fixed by upping the soy sauce.  I loved the roasted cashews - they added some lovely crunch to the dish. I served this with a can of tuna one day, and some shredded chicken another.

To see what Margaret, Chaya and Sarah thought, visit their websites.

Monday, October 27, 2014

"Carrot Cake" Muffins

After making Dorie's Scallops with Double Carrots, I was left with an awful lot of vegetable juice that I was never going to drink.  (I could not buy a small poppa size vegetable juice and ended up with a litre of it.)  Not wanting to waste the lot, I put some in a stir fry, but then wondered if I could use it creatively in some baking.

After browsing through some Google results, I found this recipe for Carrot Cake Muffins from Mom Endeavors. They use 3/4 cup of vegetable juice -perfect!  The recipe made 18 regular sized muffins.  If I had known, I might have cut the recipe down a little, but my work colleagues had no troubles polishing these off - someone told me they had three!

Here's a peek inside the finished product:

These are great muffins to get some veges into your kids, but the sugar content is on the higher side (2 cups), so if you are watching that element of your diet, you may want to cut it down a tad.  With three cups of carrot, I think these muffins are a genius way to up the vegetable content of a fussy child's diet.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Oliver & Co, Indooroopilly Shoppingtown

On a recent trip to Brisbane, I dropped into Indooroopilly Shoppingtown, which has recently undergone a major overhaul.  I needed some brekky, and decided to try my luck in the new gourmet food court on the lower level of the shopping centre.  After browsing the options, I settled on Oliver & Co, a deli come café.

I hadn't read any review about this place before I went, and I am glad that I didn't.  Some of the reviews are quite negative, but  I enjoyed my brekky experience.

I started off with a skinny flat white coffee ($3.80), which came out quickly:

The coffee was fine - no complaints.
For breakfast, I chose avocado salsa and cherry tomatoes on sour dough with poached eggs ($14):

I really enjoyed it, I would have preferred no red onion in the salsa (not being a red onion fan) - but that is a subjective thing.  The eggs were perfectly poached, as I was asked how I wanted them - and they came out with pleasingly runny yolks that I could soak up with my toast.  I thought that the plating with the bright red cherry tomatoes and contrasting green rocket was quite attractive.

While I was waiting for my order (which came out promptly), I wandered over to the amazing looking row of cakes on the counter.  This is one of them:

I bought two slices to take home - one slice of poached pear and caramel cake ($4.90):

and one slice of orange and ginger cake ($4.90):

The poached pear and caramel was my favourite, although of course very sweet from the caramel.  It also had a nutty topping.  If you like your cake denser and less sweet, the orange and ginger cake is for you.

I had no issues with the service.  Admittedly, I arrived early and appeared to be the first customer for the day, but I was served promptly with cake, even though by that stage several other tables had been seated. 

I would love to try some of the meats and cheeses on display at Oliver & Co, but because I was travelling, it was not possible on this visit.

I'd go to Oliver & Co again - I enjoyed the food and the French inspired décor is charming. 

Oliver & Co
Indooroopilly Shoppingtown
322 Moggill Road
Indooroopilly QLD 4068
Ph: 07 3327 2817

Friday, October 24, 2014

FFWD - Canneles for Dorie's Birthday

It's a special French Friday with Dorie this week, as today is Dorie Greenspan's birthday.  Happy birthday Dorie!

Our mission this week is to select one of the nominated recipes from Dorie's new book, Baking Chez Moi, and make and post about it.

I was pleased that one of the recipes was for canneles.  The recipe is posted online here.  I have had this on my "must make" list for a long time, and earlier this year, I had even bought a silicone mould to make my own canneles.

There has been a lot written about the difficulty of making canneles, what makes a perfect cannele, and tips and tricks for making them.  I have the fabulous advantage of having never laid eyes on a cannele in the flesh, so to speak, so I was guided entirely by Dorie's notes and the photographs that I found online.

The name of canneles comes from the fact that they are baked in moulds which make them "channelled".  Dorie says that traditionally they are baked until they turn almost as dark as nuggets of coal, and we were told to bake them until they became "very dark - black really".  This sounds counter-intuitive, but the idea is that canneles are all crispy, chewy caramelised sugar on the outside and soft and custardy on the inside.

Having never eaten a cannele before, I thought mine fitted the bill.  Of the 8 canneles that I made, two puffed up and never really fell down properly, so they were an odd shape.  The   others were certainly the right shape, and I think they were the right colour, according to Dorie's standards (cf other commentators).

However, it took an hour and a half to achieve this colour in my oven, not an hour.  I began to despair of ever getting even close, but I am happy with the end result.

I ate one of my canneles and thought it was good - it had a lovely, chewy outside and a soft, custardy middle as per Dorie's description. Now I just need to convince people at work that these little black cakes(?) are supposed to be like that and are really good. 

Check out what all the other Doristas made to celebrate by clicking on the links below:

Mini Cannelés

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lemon Creme Fraiche Cake

Recently, I had some crème fraiche left in the fridge to use up, so busily Googled recipes containing crème fraiche.  I tried "crème fraiche" plus "ingredient" which largely gave me recipes for making crème fraiche, so I changed tack and Googled "crème fraiche" plus "cake" and bingo - I found this terrific recipe for Lemon Crème Fraiche Cake

The finished cake was so moist and light, and was a winner at work:

The only change that I made to the recipe was to substitute some of the crème fraiche for thickened cream, as I did not have quite enough crème fraiche.  It didn't seem to make a difference to the finished product.  Also, if you want enough glaze to easily cover the cake, I recommend at least doubling the recipe given - I found that the amount suggested did not make enough glaze to easily cover the top of the cake.

This cake was popular at work too, so comes highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WWDH - Chickpea and roast pumpkin soup

For Wednesday with Donna Hay this week, I chose another soup - this time, Donna's Chickpea and Roast Pumpkin Soup from p76 of Off the Shelf.  You can also find the recipe online here

I enjoyed this soup - the whole chickpeas added some welcome texture.  However, I found it slightly too sweet, and would have upped the spice component - perhaps by adding some chilli.

To see what Margaret, Chaya and Sarah thought, visit their websites.