Blog Archives

Unplugged and getting back to basics


Have you ever felt the need in this crazy, busy technological world to just unplug and get away from it all?

I didn’t realise I was going to take a break – but before I knew it – that’s what I was doing. No writing, no stalking Facebook and Twitter. It felt good. To just cook and not write down all the ingredients along the way while worrying about whether the meal would be “blog-worthy” or not.

It was nice to get back to just cooking every night for Matt and I. The other thing when you write a blog as frequently as I was is the capacity to repeat recipes is decreased. You can’t exactly cook the same risotto over and over and keep blogging about it. You’ve always got to be trying something new and experimenting. While I love to do this – I just wanted to cook old favourites for a while. So, I did.

And I amused myself doing other things – like going out and having the most amazing dinner for my birthday (thanks to Matt) and going for walks on the beach. Here are some photos of my adventures while I have been silent in the online world.

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But I have missed writing here … and so I’m back to write about the food I love to cook and eat. But, there will be a few changes.

I’m going to post awesomely delicious recipes every Saturday morning to inspire you ahead of the weekend. But, I’m not going to push myself to post more than that. Sometimes our lives are just too full of computers and phones and not enough about the raw basics, like cooking, gardening, walking along the beach and just reading a good book. I have done all those things during my unexpected break – and it makes me a happier person. Unplugged = destressed = a happier me. That’s important.

Writing about food has always been so therapeutic to me – I don’t want it to start feeling like work again. My blog is about sharing food stories, great and yummy recipes and connecting with people. I don’t want to forget that again.

Do you think unplugging from the vertual world is important? Does being online all the time overwhelm you? How do you go about disconnecting and how did you feel about not being online? Was it easy, or was it hard to be out of touch? Leave your comments below. It would be great to hear about other people’s experiences.

It’s great to be back and I can’t wait to share an epic recipe I road-tested during my break – Rick Stein’s Massaman Curry from his recent Eastern Odyssey series. It was a labour of love – but worth the effort. Look out for it on Saturday. See you then!

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Cooking – not only cures hunger, but enriches the soul


Over the past few months I’ve been trying to figure out what makes cooking such a challenge for people. Why don’t more people love compiling the evening meal as much as I do?

So, I asked a few of my friends on Facebook about what makes cooking challenging for them. Most of them said it was time that made it hard to get a meal on the table. Others said it was the financial stress of having to cook for a large family. Other said recipes had too many ingredients or were too hard to follow. All very useful things to know for a food blogger like me.

But, while I can create and write simple recipes that taste great and are good on the bank balance, I was wondering what I could do to change the mindset that cooking is just a means to an end – something that has to be done.

I’ve decided, it’s all about how you feel when you cook. Busy schedules, screaming kids – all while dealing with hot pots and timers and everything else that goes along with cooking. Yeah, that sounds terrible to me too!

So, I came up with a recipe to help you think of cooking as not only a means of feeding your hunger, but feeding your soul:

1. Turn the TV off, and turn your favourite tunes on.

 One of my pet hates when I am trying to cook is having the TV mind-numbingly blaring in the background. I always cooked with the TV on growing up – then I brought a house that’s kitchen was a totally separate room from the rest of the house. Well, it was my little haven of happiness. I’d have my music on, and dance around the kitchen adding a dash of this and a drizzle of that to whatever I was cooking. I know most houses are open plan – but why not turn the TV off for a while and enjoy some music. It will do your creativity a world of good, it’ll reduce stress, plus it’s unhealthy to have the idiot box on ALL the time.

2. Ask your parner /housemate / friend to sit with you while you cook, or even lend a hand!

One thing my fiancée and I love to do is spend time together while we cook. Sometimes I cook, sometimes he cooks. Sometimes I chop and he stirs. You get the drift. If we had kids, they’d probably be there too looking on and making racket. But hey, at least you’re together and communicating, and there’s nothing better for the soul then that!

3. Be confident!!

Many people see cooking as being hard, and therefore not enjoyable. I can understand that! If you watch Masterchef or My Kitchen Rules – no wonder most of us are getting a complex that our food isn’t special enough or fancy enough or it doesn’t have enough ingredients. Well, I’m here to tell you that most of the stuff that they cook on those shows doesn’t have a place in anyone’s kitchen 90 per cent of the time. Unless you are a lady or man of leisure with a whole lot of money and a stack of time on your hands, then that sort of cooking is a unrealisitic expectation to put on home cooks. As long as it tastes good and makes you happy, that’s all that matters. In saying that, I think those “four ingredient” recipes are kind of dumb – but there’s a happy medium to everything.

4. Keep your bench tidy

The most stressful part of cooking for me, really is the clean up. I hate it! So, I have a plastic bag on the bench where I throw all my rubbish, and I cook with the dishwasher open so I can turf stuff in there when I’m done using it. After I have chopped stuff up, I wash my board and give the bench a wipe. It’s actually really easy and saves sooo much cleaning up later on. In saying that, don’t sweat it too much. When I make something new and complicated, there’s mess and jars and stuff all over the place (including the odd bit of vegie peel on the floor). The trick is, don’t make stressful recipes or new things when you are short on time and patience. Be kind to yourself!

5. Remember that cooking is about love and generosity

Change your mnindset by thinking about cooking not as a chore, but as a way of showing your love for yourself and for your family. For me, my love for food stems from the satisfaction I get from having people together, in one place – enjoying each other’s company. What better way to do that then to share food? The other thing I love about cooking is the generosity of it – and the way you can be so creative and artistic all at the same time. But what is so special for me is that cooking is the way I open my heart to people – it’s the way I feel most comfortable in showing the people I care about just how much they mean to me. If the one thing you can do everyday to show the people close to you that you love them is to cook for them, then I think that’s great. It won’t always be met with a thank you – but when it comes to food, most people appreciate the effort. And, if you live alone and cook for one – think of it as your treat to yourself. I used to do that when I lived alone and could cook WHATEVER I liked, with no complaints 🙂 Fabulous!

Have a think about these tips and if you do nothing else – cook with music on. For me the two go hand in hand. Sometimes it’ll be Kings of Leon, other times Paramore – at the moment, it’s this awesome song by a great band called Stateless. It’s chilled, relaxing and very cool!

Now because I think music and cooking are a recipe for happiness, I’m going to share with you what I think are the most inspiring tracks when it comes to cooking in all my future posts!

But in the mean time, if you normally cook with music, what’s flicking through on your Ipod at the moment? Share your inspiring tunes in the comments section below!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

 

Happy Birthday Uforic Food!


Today is Uforic Food’s first birthday, and as you can see, it’s the start of something new!

As a birthday present, the blog has received a complete makeover! What do you think?

Personally, I love it! 🙂

Over the past 12 months I have learnt a whole lot about blogging. I have posted more than 100 times and have a bunch of dedicated followers, who I thank so much for joining the Uforic Food community and the journey so far.

In the last year you have watched me dish out 30 Recipes in 30 Days – which was an awesome challenge – as well as share countless stories about my love for food, how it has grown over time and some of my family’s secret recipes.

But knowing that this big milestone was approaching, I have taken the time to think about where Uforic Food is going.

I decided the most important thing to me is to inspire people to cook, despite the fact that life is busy and hectic and crazy and there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I want to help you be a success in the kitchen.

Uforic Food is all about fabulous flavour and simplicity wherever possible. Let’s have fun cooking, instead of it being a chore. They’ll be no whacky concepts or ingredients you can’t understand. I won’t write recipes that make you have to buy 10 different kinds of sauce that are only going to sit in the cupboard because you have no other use for them.

My aim is to help you feel confident about cooking and therefore it’s all about being creative. There is nothing more rewarding then being able to go to the fridge, freezer and pantry – see what you have and make something out of it – without a recipe to go by, simply because you understand what flavours work well together. That kind of knowledge is true inspiration – not reading and following a recipe to the letter.

The recipes I write here, and the ones that will be featured in the cook book I am now writing (very exciting!!), won’t be created with the expectation that you are going to follow them step by step, measuring everything accurately along the way.

They’re a guide, surrounded by lots of other tips, tricks and food knowledge – to inspire you to chop and change, add flavours you like and have fun with it. Make it your own!

Many people dread cooking, do it out of necessity and buy take-aways and pre-packaged stuff from the supermarket because cooking is just too overwhelming, time consuming and difficult. But, I promise you, sign up to the new-look Uforic Food and in no time you’ll be dancing around the kitchen, adding a dash of this and a dollop of that and having a fabulous time cooking meals for you and your family.

The Weekly Cook Up will continue on Fridays, which delivers recipes ideal for cooking when you have a little more time up your sleeve, but that are suitable for freezing in batches to be thawed and eaten during the week when life is crazy and you only have enough energy to dial for pizza. Trust me, the time you invest on a weekend to cook a few dishes for later in the week will become your saving grace, not only when it comes to time, but for your health, as well as your hip pocket.

On Saturday l’ll bring you some awesome tips on not only how to feed your hunger, but enrich your soul through cooking. It’s a post I’m really proud of and hope you check it out. They’ll even be music too!

But until then, why not use one of the trusty links above to share this with your friends on Twitter or Facebook. Think of it not only as a birthday gesture to Uforic Food, but a great way to inspire your friends.

Again, thank you for following me on my foodie journey so far … and if you’re new to Uforic Food, welcome and please feel free to look through all the recipes already on offer. I’m really looking forward to connecting with you 🙂

 

 

Lisa

 P.S I would like to also thank my dearest friend and technology guru AJ (follow him on Twitter @BLKMGK01 or visit his awesome site for cool young professionals here). I know we didn’t get to do everything we had planned – but that just means there’s even more excitement to come!

I would also like to thank Adcell Group for designing the awesome new header and the very stylish Uforic Food logo. I love it!

The Weekly Cook Up: Spezzatino di manzo (Italian beef stew)


My mother-in-law-to-be whipped this up for dinner on Monday night, and it was so super tasty, I just had to share it with you.

It does take more than 2 hours to cook – but the meat was so tender and succulent and the pancetta and wine added so much beautiful flavour. What can I say, I just loved every mouthful – and I’m not just saying that to get brownie points with my future in-laws 🙂

I know most of us don’t have time to do this on a weeknight – but it’s a perfect weekend meal, and with a fancy name like Spezzatino di manzo – your friends are sure to be impressed if you served this up at your next dinner party. It’s also an ideal recipe for The Weekly Cook Up, because it can be cooked and frozen in preparation to take the pressure off later in the week when time is more precious.

Spezzatino di Manzo (Italian Beef Stew)

  •  1/2 a cup of plain flour
  • 1.5kg of chuck steak, cut into 5cm pieces
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 100gm of pancetta, cubed
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely diced
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 400gm tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups of beef stock
  • 1 tbs of chopped, fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbs of chopped, fresh sage (or 1 tsp of dried)
  • 2 tbs of capers, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 cup of flat leaf parsley, chopped

Method

Place flour in a large freezer bag and season with salt and pepper. Add beef and shake to coat.

Heat 1 tbs of oil in a large, heavy-based pan over a medium to high heat and brown the meat, in batches, until it’s all browned and sealed. Set aside.

Add a little more oil to the pan and fry the pancetta, carrot, celery, onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until soft.

Turn up the heat and stir in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove the nice, flavourful brown bits at the bottom.

Stir in the beef, tomato, stock, rosemary and sage and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour and 20 minutes. After this cooking time, remove the lid for a further 40 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken.

Finally stir through the capers and parsley and check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with some yummy, creamy mashed potato.

Be inspired~

Lisa

Nigella Lawson – whacky but wonderful


As you can guess from the title of this blog entry, I’m a bit of a fan of Nigella. In fact, she is my number one food hero.

She’s inspiring in the kitchen, doesn’t make you feel guilty for using tinned tomatoes or lemon juice out of a bottle – and always has a yummy short cut to make everyone’s lives just that much easier. What’s not to love?

However, Nigella has become famous for her overzealous use of adjectives and while it seems to annoy the hell out of some people – I find it extremely amusing!

Here are just a few examples of her wordiness, which I came across in just one episode of Nigella Kitchen:

On black olives in a bowl of spaghetti – “I just love how they look like teddy bear’s noses”.

Really? Not too sure that I can ever get a nose out of an olive – but each to their own, I guess.

On biscuit crumbs in a flan tin – “This case of golden crumbs looks like a fairytale crown”.

I think she has a slightly overactive imagination in this case:

And she really seems to have a liking for mini chorizo sausages referring to them as – “…my plumptious beauties”.

I’m not sure “plumptious” is even a word – but Nigella said it, so I guess it is now!!

Nigella may be a little crazy, but I respect the fact she takes a pan of pasta to bed (not even bothering to transfer it to a more manageable bowl) and that as she seductively opens her curtains in the morning, you get a glimpse of a jar of honey and a bottle of tobasco sauce on her bedside table! Now that’s dedication to food!

I’m always fascinated by her endless supply of crazy kitchen devices – not to mention the fact she has a whole entire trunk FULL of cookie cutters – in every shape and size you could ever imagine!

Some of her other devices include:

A brick covered in foil to hold down her quesadillas as they seductively sizzle on the griddle pan (like my attempt at using adjectives, Nigella style?).

A special ring pool opener – to ensure no manicure is harmed during the making of any meal.

The infamous rocking herb chopper – I always wanted one of these – and actually got one for Christmas. I haven’t used it yet – but I’m looking forward to pretending to be the voluptuous Nigella herself when I break it out for the first time.

A stand out Nigella quote for me would be this one – very inspirational, especially for those of us hell-bent on stacking on more flab around our waists:

“There are many eating opportunities in the world and I aim to celebrate as many of them as possible”.

I’m so with you on that one, sister!

And finally, I love how this woman is so down to earth, she even has her own spin on the old-school chip sandwich. In saying that, her version has a twist of lemon … very sophisticated!

“Get some flat bread, lay it out in front of you, slather it with some hommus and put a couple of handfuls of hot chips on top. Sprinkle with coarse salt, a squeeze of lemon, fold it into a package and apply to face “.

Crazy? Yes. Funny? Definitely. Delicious? Absolutely!

Whether you are a Nigella lover or hater – share some of the wordiest things you have heard her say, or the strangest implement you have seen her use in the comments section below. I know there is heaps more than the few I listed above!

P.S – Happy Birthday to my awesome dad, who provides endless inspiration for this blog, and spends so much of his time talking it up to all the customers at his fruit, vegetable and gourmet food store, Anglesea Fruitz (read more about this inspiring foodie heaven here). A girl couldn’t ask for a more amazing and supportive dad!! Love you so much!! XXX

The way to a man’s heart …


Are you superstitious? I have to admit, I am. I won’t walk under ladders, and I’ll never own a completely black cat … after all, the superstitions attached could be true, and, call me crazy, but I just don’t think the possible consequences are worth the risk!

 As far as being a romantic – well that’s me down to a tea too. I’m the kind of girl who always wanted to find the kind of love you read about in fiction or see in romantic movies – the kind of love where you can’t imagine a life without the person who makes up your other half. I know, it’s a cringe-worthy ideal for the non-romantic. But for me, it’s been a goal in life.

So when I read a blog about a very yummy sounding cake, with a very sweet story behind it, I thought I’d give it a try.  I published the recipe for said cake during my last blog post, and what can I say, I have been a very busy girl since!!! hence my lack of posting over the last two weeks or so.

The original cake was called Apple, Pecan and Date cake – but that name is no longer appropriate. It’s now called The Love Cake – and this is why.

I was blog surfing one day and came across the awesome blog called Root&Blossom, written by a lovely lady called Lena. She posted the recipe for this amazing cake, which I decided to try, and adapt slightly. This is what she wrote about this apple cake:

“It’s been over two years since I’ve made this cake! The last time I made this  I gave it to a boy for his birthday. That boy then proceeded to ask me out and then later married me. I always gave my mom a hard time about how this old family recipe ends with saying, “your hubby will love it!” But I guess I don’t have room to talk anymore, but I’m okay with that!” – Lena at Root&Blossom

Being both a romantic and lover of food – and knowing that my nearest and dearest has a sweet tooth and would love the caramel-like icing that covers this delicious dessert, I knew it was perfect! So, I made it – and said boyfriend couldn’t get enough of it!!

Something else totally amazing happened too …

Now I’m not saying the proposal was all down to the cake … but I’m sure it didn’t hinder the situation either!

Lena asked me in the comments section when I posted the recipe whether my boy liked it … I’d have to say YES!!!!!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

P.S For those of you who have been wondering about our My Kitchen Rules pursuit following the making of our audition video in March – we have some very exciting news. Ruza and I both got calls yesterday and are still being considered for the show! For confidentiality reasons, we aren’t allowed to say too much more – but we are super excited and just have to hope we make it further into the process and hopefully get picked!!! Wish us luck and thanks for all your support to date 🙂

The Weekly Cook Up: Australian fusion food


Aussie food to me is all about fusion. Australia is a multicultural extravaganza of flavours from across the world, reflecting our population – people who have come together from all over the world to call this beautiful country home.

In the 1950s you might have said Australian cuisine was about meat pies, fish and chips, snags on the barbie, the Sunday roast  … and, of course, let’s not forget Vegemite!

But since then our pallets have been wowed by the fabulous flavours of countries like Italy, China, India and more recently, the wonder that is African food.

As you walk down the streets of any of Australia’s beautiful states and territories, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to world cuisine – and then there are those restaurants which classify themselves as “Modern Australian”.

It is this term which I think really encompasses what Aussie food is all about in 2011. It’s about flavours and techniques from across the world coming together to compliment and enhance the things we love and do well here, like seafood, lamb and chicken and an array of fresh produce.

I also think it’s important to embrace indigenous culture and flavours and bush herbs such as lemon myrtle, which is a feature of my recipe, have become really popular.

World famous chef Rick Stein’s pursuit to find Australia’s Top Food Blogger and the country’s ultimate dish inspired me to create this recipe. It embraces our wonderful produce, and the flavours and techniques from all over the world which has influenced our cuisine so much.

Rick Stein Food Odyssey Live On Stage

The chicken in this recipe is succulent and infused with the flavours of basil and lemon myrtle. The potatoes are crispy and delicious, just like you’d expect from a perfectly cooked Sunday roast. The sausages give a really authentic Aussie touch, with a Balkan twist, and the beans don’t only add colour, but a crispy freshness. When brought together, it’s un unpretentious dish that is fragrant, moist and bursting with flavour.

In a nutshell – it’s the kind of food everyone just loves to eat.

BAKED FUSION CHICKEN

Serves 6-8

Marinade:

  • 16 organic chicken drumsticks (you could also use maryland or thighs, if you like)
  • 2 tbs of basil pesto
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp of lemon myrtle
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbs of olive oil

Combine all of the marinade ingredients. Massage into the chicken, cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Remaining ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 6 small, skinless pork sausages (also called chevaps, which are actually Balkan), broken into bite-sized pieces
  • 8 mushrooms, halved
  • 4 whole cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1 large handful of beans, trimmed
  • 1/3 of a cup of water
  • 1 tbs of flour

Method:

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees celsius (200 for fan forced). In a baking dish, combine the marinated chicken, red onion, potatoes, sausage pieces, mushrooms and garlic with a few good glugs of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Toss with your hands so the marinade coats all the ingredients.

 Bake for 50 minutes, checking after 35 minutes to see how it’s progressing.

After an hour, add the tomatoes and beans and stir through. Try to ensure the potatoes are mostly at the top, so they don’t go soggy in the juices, letting them to go golden and crispy. Taste the sauce to check for seasoning and add more, if required. Bake for a further 15 minutes – enough to cook the beans and tomatoes, but so the tomatoes hold their shape. 

Serve onto plates, but leave most of the juices in the pan. Place the pan on your stove-top and bring to a gentle boil. Mix the flour and water in a small bowl and add to the simmering juices. Whisk until the sauce starts to thicken. Once a good consistency, spoon over the chicken. Garnish with chopped parsley.

I think this dish doesn’t only reflect the flavours that have been brought to Australia over the past 60 years – but it also reflects the kind of food Australians like to eat every day- food packed with flavour, but without fuss and pretension.

I hope this dish is something my Food Hero, Rick Stein would love! I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

A skill for life – teach your kids to cook


When I first moved from Darwin to Victoria to go to university – I was stunned by the number of people who couldn’t cook for themselves – at all!

Even though we got to eat in the cafeteria five nights a week as part of living on campus – that still left two meals where we had to fend for ourselves.

Moving away from home hadn’t removed my love for cooking, and so I used to muscle my way into our communal kitchen, around the other students making two-minute noodles, mugs of milo and spaghetti jaffles, to cook up various dishes which I enjoyed.

These weekly cook-ups turned into make-shift cooking classes – with my housemates quizzing me on the most basic of things – like cooking pasta and rice … which I will get to in just a moment.

My housemates thought the fact I knew how to cook a descent meal for myself was really impressive! I mean this wasn’t fine dining food – just a few casseroles and stuff like that. I even cooked everyone a roast one weekend. Everyone loved it, appreciated it and thought I was so skillful.

But really, I wasn’t skillful. My mother, knowingly or not, had taught me how to be self-sufficient.

It boggles my mind that parents are sending their young adults out into the world – with no cooking skills at all!

The parents of many of my housemates had also overlooked other skills too – like teaching their nest-leavers how to use a washing machine. I conducted many lessons in this regard too. This included explaining that jumping in the washing machine and pushing all the clothes down so you can do three week’s washing in one load was a pretty ineffective way of getting clothes clean. But, let’s focus on the cooking skills for now.

This week, if you have teenage kids at home – why not put some time aside to teach them a few basic skills. If you have already done this – then well done! Just remember, unless they are passionate about cooking, they don’t need to be the next Junior Masterchef . However, as much as you may or may not like it, they are going to move out one day and they will need to know how to feed themselves.

Being able to drive to Maccas is not an adequate skill to ensure your young person’s survival in the big wide world.

So, without further ado, let’s start with how to cook rice.

Even for people who do know how to cook – making perfect fluffy rice can be an elusive talent!

So, here are some tips and tricks to think about. This recipe serves four generous portions. If you have leftovers – you can always make my awesome fried rice recipe.

PERFECT FLUFFY RICE

  • 1 mug-sized cups of uncooked basmati rice
  • 1  1/2 mug-sized cups of water.

Method:

Place the rice and the water in a large, microwave-proof bowl, uncovered.

Place in the microwave and cook, on high, for 12 minutes. The cooking time may vary depending on your microwave.

Once cooked – all the liquid should have been absorbed into the rice. Use a fork to fluff up the rice and serve with your favourite curry, casserole etc.

Some Variations

Once you have the basic principle down – you can start adding some other flavours and textures.

You can use cold chicken stock, instead of water, and a knob of butter to add flavour.

Or, you can make saffron rice by using the chicken stock, butter and popping in a good pinch of saffron before you place the rice in the microwave. It will make the rice look amazing and the delicate flavours of the saffron really make rice something special.

A good way to educate kids that are big or small about cooking – is to let them help you in the kitchen. Empower them, make it fun. Who cares if they make a mess or don’t do it right the first time. As long as they aren’t getting burnt or chopping their fingers off – the most important thing is you are giving them the gift of a skill for life!

Stay tuned to Uforic Food for even more teen-friendly recipes you can share with the young people in your house. Even if they rebel and leave home only able to reheat baked beans – you will always know you gave it your best shot!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

Masterclass lesson #2: Lobster with garlic butter


The main course we cooked at the chef masterclass with Marty Chichester meant I got to not only cook, but eat an entire lobster – all to myself!! Talk about a very special treat.

The meat was delicate and perfectly cooked (not thanks to my skills – but to very good instruction) – and the garlic butter complemented the sweetness of the flesh. We also cooked chilli mud crab (which I know is one of my dad’s favourite dishes – I’m sure he’ll be thrilled that I now know how to cook it!)

But, more about the crab tomorrow.

As we all know, lobster is really expensive – so you want to make sure you know what you’re doing. I think you’d be heartbroken if you served it, and it was rubbery and tasted like rubbish.

Marty gave us some great tips about cooking lobster:

– Put your live, uncooked lobster in the freezer for 20 minutes before you cook it. This puts the lobster to “sleep”. Apparently they kick and make a big miss if you pop them in boiling water while they’re still alive. Let’s face it – it’s cruel. Putting them in the freezer is the most humane way of cooking them.

– Cook a medium to large-sized lobster in boiling water for about 7 minutes. At the end of the 7 minutes, plunge it into a sink filled with ice water. This brings the temperature right down, stopping the cooking process. This will not cook the lobster all the way through – just enough for it to hold together when you cut it in half, lengthways. You finish the cooking after adding your flavourings, in an oven or under a griller. This ensures you don’t over cook the lobster and make it rubbery.

– After you have cut your lobster lengthways – you have to clean out the innards (or mustard, as some people call it – I’m guessing because of the colour). You can eat it – but I have no desire to. Now you really do need to get in with your hands and scoop it out – you could use a spoon, but I don’t think it would work that well. Marty said that no matter how tempted you are, don’t wash the lobster. Like with the oysters I wrote about yesterday, it washes away all the great flavours. You also need to remove the waste tract which goes through the tail. It looks much like the vein in a prawn – just bigger.

Now that the yucky stuff is done the fun stuff begins. It was great to learn all the above tips. It was all the things I was so nervous about. But, now I know I can tackle a lobster with confidence – and I’m sure the recipes will flow now. Well, I might have to save up to buy a lobster – but I think now that I have some idea of what I am doing, it’ll be a worthwhile investment.

Grilled Lobster with Garlic and Herb Butter

  • 2 whole live lobsters – about 600 to 800gm each
  • 150gm of unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 a bunch of parsley
  • 2 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 tsp of capers, chopped
  • A squeeze of lemon juice

Method

Mix chopped ingredients into the softened butter and then put to one side.

Put the live lobsters in the freezer for 20 mins (as stated above).

Plunge the lobster into boiling water for 7 minutes. Once the time is up, place into ice water.

Once cooled, cut the lobster lengthways through the middle and then clean out the waste from the head as well as the waste tract (as stated above).

The flesh should look rare – so quite white on the outside parts near the shell, but quite translucent towards the middle. This is what you want to ensure the lobster isn’t overcooked under the grill.

Season well with salt and pepper and then smother the flesh liberally with the butter mixture. This will protect the flesh from the heat of the grill and allow the butter, garlic and herbs to seep into the flesh. This can be done in advance, with the rest of the process to be completed when ready to serve.

Place under a grill and cook until lightly browned in colour. This should take only 3 or 4 minutes. Transfer to a 180-degree oven for 4 to 5 minutes, until cooked through and tender.

Serve immediately.

I have to admit, I did eat the whole lobster – so with two lobsters for this recipe, it serves two. But for an entree serve – half per person would be plenty. Tomorrow I’ll share with you a brilliant crispy apple salad – and of course, the delicious chilli crab.

I just can’t wait to get my hands on another lobster and make this again. Soooo yum!!

If you’re feeling inspired to do a masterclass, why not check out the Oakdene Vineyard website and find out about Marty’s masterclasses. You won’t be disapointed 🙂

Be Inspired~

Lisa

The Age’s Cheap Eats guide celebrates 25 years


The Age Cheap Eats guide is this year celebrating its 25th anniversary – quite a feat!

I love the idea that they put this out every year – it’s for people like me who don’t always want to pay an arm and a leg to eat out- but still want great food with a side serve of value for money.

In a great article (read it here) written by The Age’s Nina Rousseau, the guide started out way back in 1986 – and according to founding editor Alan Attwood, they had no idea it was going to so popular.

Rousseau’s article aptly described how not only the world, but how food has changed over the past quarter of a century: “(the guide has) weathered two recessions, sworn in four prime ministers, and witnessed the mania of the macaroon. It was there when cafes became licensed, when it was no longer cool to blow cigarette smoke on your fellow diners and when producing a coupon to pay for your dinner was very much in vogue.”

All very true!!

This year I am proud to say that one of my very favourite places to eat – and is just around the corner from home – has been named the winner of the 2011 Country Cheap Eats Champ award. Well done to The Elk Horn Road House.

Before the new lease holders – Terri and Julie took over, it was nothing more than a tin shed in what seemed like the middle of a paddock. Now it’s kitch and gorgeous and I go there almost every morning for one of their delicious coffees. I am fussy about my coffee and these guys make it perfectly every single time.

I have also been there for breakfast and lunch and their committment to using local produce (including herbs and vegies grown in their own garden) – is just fantastic. The menu is concise, but varied and is always beautifully cooked.

So next time you are in Geelong and heading out onto the Bellarine Peninsula, stop by the Elk Horn Road House and sample their coffee, amazing breakfasts, lunches and cakes and slices. They also have a gorgeous array of gifts, home-made jams and other produce, plus heaps of other great stuff which will get you inspired.

If your not in Geelong, but closer to Melbourne, here are the winners of the other categories for this year. Make sure you go and check them out! Cheap Eats is available at all good bookshops and newsagents, and direct from http://www.theageshop.com.au .

2011 CHEAP EATS CHAMP

Aangan, 559 Barkly Street, Footscray West, 9689 4175

Sporting a refit, Aangan dishes up flavour-packed regional specialities. It’s some of the best Indian in town.

2011 COUNTRY CHEAP EATS CHAMP

Elk Horn Road House, 420a Wallington Road, Wallington, 5250 6056

Top coffee and first-rate food in a simple shed setting that oozes country charm.

BAR OF THE YEAR

Naked for Satan, 285 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, 9416 2238

Affordable, inventive pinchos that pair well with sinful cocktails and a fab fitout.

CHEAP EATS HALL OF FAME

The London Tavern Hotel, 238 Lennox Street, Richmond, 9428 6894

Serving pots and parmas to the game-day hordes, the London has been a Cheap Eats inclusion since 1986.

BREAKFAST SPOT OF THE YEAR

Jackson Dodds, 611 Gilbert Road, Preston 9471 1900

Brilliant brekkies run day-long so you can eat your dukkah eggs or kedgeree whenever you roll out of bed.

LUNCH SPOT OF THE YEAR

Duchess of Spotswood, 87 Hudsons Road, Spotswood 9391 6016

Stylish and sophisticated English-skewed lunches and brunches.

FITOUT OF THE YEAR

Salford Lads Club, 1 Fennell Street, Port Melbourne 0409 543 911

In a back-block warehouse, the SLC is a former mechanics workshop turned airy, cool caff.

CAFFEINE HIT OF THE YEAR

Proud Mary, 172 Oxford Street, Collingwood 9417 5930

So they should be proud. This roastery and caffeine dispensary knows its beans backwards.

VEGETARIAN SPOT OF THE YEAR

Munsterhaus, 371 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North 9489 4420

A relaxed, all-vego canteen dishing up creative salads, each with distinct flavour profiles.

WORLD FOOD DISH OF THE YEAR

Simon’s Peiking Duck Chinese Restaurant, 197b Middleborough Road, Box Hill South 9898 5944

Return of the “duck Nazi” Simon Lay, renowned for his crisp-skinned Peking duck banquets.

BIGGEST HYPE OF THE YEAR

Mamasita, Level 1, 11 Collins Street, City 9650 3821

Reviewers and bloggers stormed this Mexican mama and the hype machine kicked into overdrive.

Very Inspiring~

Lisa

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