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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Breakfast at the Subi

I went to bed excited last Thursday night. Why? Because the next day I was planning on following up my usual 6am gym session with breakfast at the Country Road Cafe in the city. Since discovering this place last year I've been spreading the word (so many people don't know about it. I mean, who thinks to look for a cafe in the middle of Country Road? Does anyone actually shop in Country Road?) and been there for quite a few tasty, well-priced lunches. I've never had a chance to try their breakfast menu though, and was pretty pumped for it (especially after the gym, ho ho). These plans were changed however when we decided to head into Subi instead, as my breakfast buddy had a meeting to get to and we really didn't want to feel rushed during our anticipated Country Road Cafe experience. So, off to the Subi Hotel we went!

Our last breakfast experience in Subiaco was at The Walk Cafe, and it was so horribly mediocre I am sure I declared I would never eat there again. I had eaten breakfast at the Subi only once before, celebrating Canada Day with a group of friends last year (in the weeks leading up to my departure to Maple Land). In fact, the reason why we ended up at the Subi last year was because our plans to eat at Tiamo Cafe were dashed at the last minute when we discovered that Tiamo was closed due to a kitchen fire. I wonder how the kitchen fire started... perhaps someone tried to bake some ham and the oven rebelled in confusion.

Upon arrival at the Subi we found a table amongst the blackberried and suited fellow diners and sat down to peruse the menu. There are a number of more interesting dishes on their breakfast menu, and whilst I knew full well I wasn't going anywhere near the "eggs in the middle with grilled black pudding, tomato relish", I found it difficult to choose between the "toasted New Norcia organic sourdough with smoked salmon en cocotte" and the "spinach couscous with parmesan, poached egg, hollandaise sauce". When I asked the waitress what the smoked salmon en cocotte was made of, she seemed a little unsure, and it required a minimum of 20 minutes preparation so I went with the couscous. Actually, the menu called it "cous cous", which drew derision from my Moroccan breakfast buddy (which I nodded knowingly to, making a mental note to not make this rookie mistake myself). He chose the "farmhouse: scrambled egg, bacon, tomato, chipolatas, hash brown & toast" with a side order of mushrooms and changing the eggs to poached. He did try to get multigrain toast but seemed to only have the option of changing it to sourdough. I also ordered some smoked salmon on the side, and asked for the hollandaise to be left off my dish.

The food arrived in good time, following leisurely conversation and a few sips of our long blacks, and was good on the eye (although not so great on my camera, apparently):

The couscous had a great texture and was full of flavour - quite salty but in a lovely parmesany way. The egg was poached to perfection and oozed beautifully into the couscous when broken into. I wasn't entirely sure about the addition of crostini with my dish, and was really glad to have ordered the side of smoked salmon as the protein:carb ratio of the base dish seemed a little low for my liking. In any case, I really enjoyed the breakfast and would happily eat it again.

The "farmhouse" was declared the best full-breakfast-type dish of all of the places we've been to over the past few months of breakfast dining. All components were full of flavour and well cooked, and my generally non-sausage eating friend even got stuck into the chipolatas. I was allowed to share in the side order of mushrooms, and had to hold myself back from doing the old "what's that over there?" trick.

The service was good. Friendly, yet efficient and unobtrusive. We were never left waiting yet neither did we feel rushed.

After paying I resisted the urge to take a mint, as I recalled what happened the last time I was there... I popped a mint into my mouth, thinking perhaps it would be a good thing to do given that I was about to be farewelling my dining companions for a number of months and didn't want their last memory of me to be of having stinky coffee breath as I hugged them goodbye. As luck would have it, the mints they have there are those ones with the gooey blue stuff in the middle, which I discovered is quite sticky as it adhered itself to my tongue piercing and made it somewhat difficult to speak without looking and sounding a bit odd. I discretely tried to free it whilst making riveting non-verbal conversation and think I actually ended up having to hang back from the group to reach into my mouth and dislodge it manually. Yeah, lovely.

EDIT: Went back again recently (25 February 2010) and the food was mediocre and service was terrible. We actually heard them scoffing about our audacity to request a different type of bread than the thin, hard disks they served as their standard toast. So, not really willing to recommend this place anymore. Shame!

Subiaco Hotel on Urbanspoon

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

For my last birthday a dear friend was kind enough to give me a fabulous cookbook, The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook by Jennifer Graham. What I particularly like about this cookbook is that it is Australian, and thus I have yet to encounter any unsourcable ingredients within the recipes. It also has a useful "tips, techniques & tools" section in the beginning and a stockists section in the back. Most importantly, every recipe has an accompanying picture, which I find a crucial component of any good cookbook! Well, I might be willing to overlook this requirement for those old classic cookbooks like the CWA one. Not so sure I want to see photos of potted head and spotted dick, anyway.

I've only had a chance to make a few recipes from this new book so far, although I somehow still have managed to get multiple pages stained and buckled from being wet. Err.. sign of a good busy cook, I guess. The first recipe I tried were the "Church Picnic Carrot Cupcakes", which I altered slightly to come up with the following recipe..

Carrot Cake Cupcakes
adapted from The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook

Makes 24; Keeps 2 days; Freezes 2 months

Cupcake Ingredients:
2 cups self raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
0.5 Tb ground cinnamon
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cup soft brown sugar
3 large eggs
2.5 cups firmly packed peeled grated carrot
1 cup chopped walnuts
0.5 cup sultanas
zest of an orange
zest of a lemon

Cupcake Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line 2 12-hole muffin trays with cupcake papers. Use those colourful ones.
2. Sift together the self-raising flour, bicarb of soda and cinnamon.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the vegetable oil, brown sugar and eggs using an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat for about 5 minutes until thick and creamy.
4. Add the grated carrot, chopped walnuts, sultanas and zests. Beat on low speed until combined.
5. Add the flour mixture and beat until thoroughly combined; do not overbeat as this will toughen the mixture.
6. Spoon mixture into cupcake papers, filling until about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes immediately from the trays and cool on a cake rack for at least 30 minutes before icing them

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
80g softened unsalted butter
250g softened cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract (use half this again if you have vanilla essence)
3 3/4 cups icing sugar

Frosting Method:
1. Cream the butter for 1-2 minutes.
2. Add the cream cheese, vanilla and half the sifted icing sugar and beat for 3 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy.
3. Gradually add remaining sifted icing sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and of a spreadable consistency.
4. You can use it immediately, or keep it for 4 days.

Decoration Ingredients:
0.5 cup walnuts
1.5 Tb soft brown sugar
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon

Decoration Method:
1. Roast the walnuts in the oven until lightly browned, then get the skins off them and crush them using a mortar and pestle.
2. Mix the walnut crumbs/chunks with the sifted sugar and cinnamon.
3. Ice the cupcakes quite generously and then dunk the tops of the cupcakes into the walnut mixture.

Monday, April 27, 2009

27 April 09 - Bookclub April 2009

Last week I enjoyed my first bookclub meeting since returning to Australia. In typical style, it was more about the food and less about the book, which was just as well really given that I actually read the book quite a few years ago and never quite got around to brushing up on prior to the meeting. The book was "Coraline" by Neil Gaiman, which has been recently made into a film and whilst it has been released in the US we will be waiting some time for it to grace our shores. I can pretty much recommend any of Gaiman's works, and have been lending Neverwhere around to my fellow bookclubbers. I think I own more of his books but given that most of my belongings have now been in storage for nine months I am having difficulty recalling what exactly is awaiting me in that shipping container. Let's hope the gestation period isn't much longer (possible news on this front, but I don't want to count my chickens before they have a coop).

I took the bookclub meeting as an opportunity to try out some recipes that had caught my attention recently, and ended up making three dips with accompanying dippy-type things.

First up was a particularly interesting recipe for savoury biscotti, specifically an Almond and Black Pepper Biscotti recipe that I came across in my Canadian baking cookbook. I was a little scared about this working, as the dough was such a thick consistency, but I guess this makes sense given how dense biscotti is and how thick it needed to be to hold its goodies across the entire height of the 'log'. The results were impressive to look at and delicious to eat.

Its savoury nature, as opposed to the traditional sweet biscotti flavour, was a nice surprise (well, it would have been if I hadn't been blathering on about it before serving it) and it paired quite nicely with the baked brie and sundried tomato dip that I served it with. This was simply a mixture of chopped brie, sundried tomatoes, garlic and fresh thyme baked until bubbly and delicious smelling. You can stick Glade up your arse (don't actually do this), just bake some of this in your oven if you need to mask any suspicious odours.

Next up was another recipe from my Canadian cookbook, Onion and walnut "biscuits". Biscuits in the North American sense of the word, not the Aussie/English sense. They are more like savoury scones. These were particularly delicious when fresh out of the oven, and although I reheated them prior to serving them at the meeting they weren't quite so scrumptious as when they were super super fresh. Still pretty damn good though, and a nice accompaniment to the Muhammara I served them with. The Muhammara is essentially a spicy roasted pepper and walnut dip, and actually was my impetus to roasting capsicum FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER. I know, I know, I am not sure either how I managed to get this far in my cooking life without having done this before. It's so much fun! And so easy! I will definitely be roasting more capsicum in the future. All this use of North American recipes however is making my brain say "pepper" before it remembers to say "capsicum". Before I know it I'll be using aluminum foil and growing cilantro. Anyway, here is the Muhammara (finished off with some sambal oelek, which I also used in place of the chillis in the recipe) with Caramelised Onion, Walnut and Rosemary "Biscuits"..

Last up was this Artichoke Olive Dip recipe that I came across a couple of weeks ago and wanted to eat off the monitor. It has a really lovely chunky consistency and worked well with the Parmesan Crusted Baked Zucchini Sticks I served them with.

I was really happy with the zucchini sticks, and used the same crust combination on some chicken that I had marinated in a spiced yoghurt the following night for dinner. I like using Panko instead of breadcrumbs, it sounds much fancier. Took a bit of finding in the supermarket for it though, but I would assume that an Asian supermarket like Kong's would be able to sort you out pretty easily.

All six of the new recipes I tried out for the bookclub worked well and I plan to make them all again. The biscotti was really a stand out, and seemed to be the most popular of the dishes. It was also great to see how easy a good biscotti is to make, and I plan to bust out some different variations on the base biscotti mixture now that I know what I'm doing. I don't want to be a biscotti one hit wonder.

Next book we're reading: Revolutionary Road. Next bookclub recipes: ???

24 April 09 - Ti Amo, ti odio

My patience for menus that blatantly lie is wearing thin. Tiamo, I'm looking in your direction. My first, and until recently only, experience eating at Tiamo Cafe was many years ago when I lived in Nedlands and had a very forgettable lunch with a (unforgettable) friend there. I had no intentions of returning until I recently read in the Vogue Forums that someone had had a fabulous breakfast there, and so I thought I'd give them a second chance.

I arrived at Tiamo incredibly hungry following a session at the gym, as is my modus operandi, and sat at one of the outside tables in the beautiful morning sunshine. I should have known to cut and run after asking for a "traditional long mac" and being asked if I would like it topped up with milk. I was feeling in a generous mood however, and was happy that at least they had asked if I like it topped up rather than just assuming I do. I am curious as to what she thought I meant by traditional however. Anyway, after perusing the not terribly inspiring menu I decided on Eggs Benedict ("Free Range Eggs on toasted English muffins with freshly sliced honey leg ham") with the addition of grilled tomatoes. The waiter became a little confused when I checked if the dish was served with hollandaise (which I don't like to eat) but returned a little while later to confirm that it does (so I asked for none).

I didn't have to wait too long for my food, which is unsurprising as it doesn't take very long to grill one measly tomato, poach a couple of eggs and stick them on a cold muffin topped with one single slice of packet sandwich ham. I declined the waiter's offer of some "grilled black pepper" with my meal and dug in with a decided lack of gusto. It tasted like you would imagine, although at least the eggs were softly poached.

The highlight was being asked by the girl at the counter how my meal was, telling her the truth (politely) and being met with "Oooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh dear. That's $18.50". Up until then I was at least happy with the service, especially given the amusing offer of grilled pepper, but this even stole this happiness from me.

Ti odio, TiAmo. You suck.

Tiamo Cafe on Urbanspoon

2 April 09 - My sleep for a cupcake (or 37)

I think that perhaps I have some sort of baking related obsessive disorder. I just can't stop myself when I see the opportunity to feed people with baked goods, even if it means baking from 11pm (after getting home from work) until 1am (when the last batch of cupcakes is finally freed from the hot tins), knowing full well I will be dragging my sorry arse out of bed at 5:20 the next day for some gym goodness.

I suspect this obsession stems from a need for positive reinforcement from others, as there is nothing quite like having people tell you that something you have cooked is truly delicious. Granted, I may be taking the easy option on the road to compliments by dosing people with sugar and fat, but I will take it how I can get it.

My journey through the breakfasts of Perth continued this morning, at Six Clicks West in Nedlands. Sadly it was nothing to spend too many characters on. With quite a dull menu to choose from, I opted for poached eggs on wholemeal toast, with grilled tomatoes and smoked salmon on the side. The salmon was forgotten until the waitress saw the look of dismay on my face, and the toast was very toasted. Luckily however the knives were reasonably sharp so this wasn't too big a problem (I only managed to shunt my toast off my plate by the force of my cutting once). I do not think that this breakfast warrants a return visit, which is unfortunate as the cafe is quite close to uni.

Apparently Six Clicks West is owned by the same guy who owns Van's Sidewalk Café in Cottesloe and Aubergine in South Fremantle, which is interesting as Van's was next on my list to try. I shall see if the superhard toast and forgotten salmon is a recurring theme...

10 April 09 - More cooking, more eating

My breakfast journey continued last weekend, in the traditional post-pump manner, at Van's Sidewalk Cafe in Cottesloe. I was a little apprehensive given the disappointment of Six Clicks West, and the fact that we were dining in prime bunch period on a Sunday but I am happy to report that a table was free when we arrived (only just!) and the menu was interesting! Hurrah!

I am getting quite picky with my breakfast menu critique, since I am perusing one at least twice a week at the moment, and words cannot describe my bitter disappointment at seeing the most interesting item on a breakfast menu is that there is the option of wholegrain bread with your full breakfast. Our joy at finding some interesting options on the breakfast menu at Van's was further enhanced when we discovered the "Morning" dishes on the menu (that is, all the breakfast style dishes) were actually available to choose from at any time of the day. This was a particularly salient point given that we were eating breakfast at 12:30pm.

I opted for the "breakfast bruschetta" and the only disappointment was that the waitress pronounced is "brooshetta" which normally annoys my inner food snob quite a lot but in this case she said it in such a friendly way I was able to overlook it. I have eaten all too many things between this breakfast and today (especially today) but I will try to recall my dish... I believe it was toasted sourdough (nice and thick, with no butter, yay), with a generous serving of spinach, shredded leg ham and creamy feta on top, with a poached egg and some crispy prosciutto. It was so wonderful to have some real, good quality ham after being served pre-sliced straight-from-the-packet ham in so many other places. The serving did not look huge when it came out, but turned out to be just the perfect size for my post-workout hunger. The long black was also good but not fantastic.

Sadly I cannot recall the dish of my dining partner but he was also very pleased with his meal. It was also quite a nice vibe in there. Lots of attractive, happy people out enjoying each other's company on a beautiful sunny Perth Sunday (and despite this, I didn't pick up on any of the snobbery you can feel in some of the hipster-laden parts of town). Of course, this may have been due to the endorphins I had been working up but I'm willing to attribute it to the location.

This is been quite a week of cooking for me, what with the 37 cupcakes of the last post and a morning tea I organised for Tuesday. I managed to whip up a batch of orange poppyseed cupcakes, Nutella lava cookies, and my newly favourite cake - a coffee lamington cake. I have photos of these on my camera but my computer's card reader seems to be on holiday so I shall add them to the post when I find the cable.

Today was also a big day of cooking, and an even bigger day of eating. It is a strongly held tradition in my family to eat one's weight in food, preferably seafood, on Good Friday. Unfortunately my sister shirked her responsibilities somewhat given that she is recovering from a nasty stomach bug/poisoning/grossness incident, but I reached deep and covered her shortfall. We enjoyed a range of tasty salads, fresh bread, oven roasted coral trout filled with a rice/olive/pistachio/currant/caper/etcetc stuffing, cray tails and prawns, smoked albacore, and a salmon and scallop ceviche. I made the ceviche, and was so pleased that it turned out well with all the flavours in happy harmony. All of the food was superb, as per usual, and of course everyone ate too much.

Not so much however that dessert was out of the question, which was just as well as I made a Hot Cross Bun and Butter Pudding. In fact, I made two. One using chocolate hot cross buns, and one using normal hot cross buns. They were served with blueberries, sliced peaches and pineapple and seemed to go down a treat. I think I shall be making these again, though I guess if I want to make it between now and next easter I should buy some hot cross buns and freeze them. Well, I can always make my own hot cross buns but it seems a bit of a waste of time to make the buns and then turn them into a pudding. Better to take up precious freezer space in the anticipation of pudding, I say.

Funnily enough, as I was preparing the pudding this morning we had Kerri-Anne on the tv and she had a cooking guest on who was making... hot cross bun and butter puddings. Mum and I agreed that my recipe was better, if only because it included brandy. I also cooked mine using a bain marie method whilst they said this was too difficult. Pah!

Ceviche photo update....

Welcome friends, I hope you are hungry

I thought it was about time to set up a fresh blog, given that my old one was actually created to chronicle my time living in Canada and now seems to be decidedly food-centric. I'll copy my last few posts over from my old blog so this post doesn't get too lonely lest I take too long to give it some fresh friends..

Sunday, April 26, 2009


andaluz bar & tapas (CBD)
Botanical Cafe (Kings Park)
The Cabin (Mt Hawthorn)
Country Road Cafe (CBD)
ecco! pizza (Subiaco)
Greenhouse (CBD)
Ha-Lu (Mt Hawthorn)
Jackson's Restaurant (Highgate)
Jade Chinese Seafood Restaurant (Northbridge)
Jus Burgers (Leederville)
Kailis Bros (Leederville)
Kitsch (Leederville)
The Merchant (Highgate)
The Naked Fig Cafe (Swanbourne)
Nine Fine Food (Northbridge)
Oxford St Market (Leederville)
Phi Yen (Northbridge)
Restaurant Amusé (East Perth)
Subiaco Hotel (Subiaco)
Subi Farmers Market (Subiaco) (October 09)
Subi Farmers Market (Subiaco) (November 09)
Tarts Cafe (Northbridge)
Tiamo Cafe, Nedlands
Van's Sidewalk Cafe (Cottesloe)
Viet Nosh (Nedlands)
West End Deli (West Perth)
Yuzu Kaiten Sushi, Mt Lawley

Bella Vista
Camel Bar
l'attitude 28

AIX Cafe Creperie Salon (CBD)
Ants Bistro (Chinatown)
Barcelona (St Kilda)
BearBrass (Southbank) (breakfast)
BearBrass (Southbank) (dinner)
Cumulus Inc. (CBD) (breakfast)
Cumuls Inc. (CBD) (lunch)
Dahu Peking Duck Restaurant (Chinatown)
International Cakes (CBD)
Lorca (CBD)
Prahran Market
Sirocco (CBD)
Stuzzichino (Carlton)
Templebar Precinct (Collingwood)

Austral Hotel (CBD)
Central Market (CBD)
Convention Centre (CBD)
Izakaya Sushi Taxi (CBD)
Sebel Playford (CBD) (breakfast)
Sebel Playford (CBD) (dinner)
The Brasserie (CBD)

Bali, Indonesia
Febri's Spa
La Lucciola
Made's Warung
Warung Eropa

Plane Food
Skywest (July 09)


Steel Cut Oat Porridge

Gorgonzola Stuffed Figs in Proscuitto 
Parrot Pies
Party Eggs
Satay chicken pies
Stuffed Smoked Salmon Parcels

Artichoke, Beetroot and Bean Salad with Spiced Lamb
Beans with Pancetta Crumbs
Charred Aubergine and Coconut Curry
Cheesy Vegizo Lasagne
Chilli Mussels
Gnocchi Pillows
Lamb Stroganoff
Mexicana San Choy Bao
Pad Thai
Pan-fried Snapper with Asian Noodle Salad
Pol Sambal
Roasted Sweet Potato and Beetroot Salad
Slow Cooked Capretto
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Spiced Lamb Cutlets
Sri Lankan Fried Rice
Swine Flu Revenge
Warm Pork and Fennel Pasta Salad
Wild Porcini Pearl Couscous

Bakewell Tarts
Banana and Macadamia Cupcakes
Carrot Cupcakes
Chocolate Birthday Cakes
Chocolate Fudge Frosting
Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes with Baileys Frosting
Fruit Mince Shortbreads
Gingerbread House
Ginger Christmas Biscuits
Jaffa the Cheesecake
Lamington Ice Cream
Lemon and Poppyseed Cupcakes
Macadamia ANZAC Biscuits
Milano Cookies
Mouse/cat/bunny Cupcakes
Mulled Wine Pears with Spiced Stuffing
Nanaimo Bars
Orange Raisin Squares
Owl Cupcakes
Rhubarb Cake
Rocky Road Brownie Slice
Snippety Snip Cake
Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce
Tropical Muesli Bars

Dips and Sauces
BBQ Sauce

About Me

My love of cooking is surpassed only by my love of eating, though I never quite recovered from the beef I was served at college. I'll try almost anything once, but it takes a very special piece of offal or beef to get me to try it again.

I've worn a few hats in my twenty something years, starting with a fetching McDonald's cap in high school, to the beer hat of a medical student, then the faux-silk scarf of a bank teller, hard hat of an engineer and now the sun hat of a PhD student who hangs out with plankton.

When I'm not eating, cooking, playing with plankton or lounging around with my mates I can be found busting a gut in some way or another to counteract my eating abilities, which I think are surpassed only by my Dad.

I'm currently living in Perth, Western Australia, but itching to add more stamps to my passport, half-arsed learnt languages to my brain and tastes to my palate.

I love receiving comments on my posts but you can also contact me at holdthebeef(at)gmail(dot)com

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