Maestral- long time no see

It had been years since I had been to Maestral in Weston and a revisit was long overdue. When I stepped into the dining room, I had forgotten how tiny their space was, but it always filled with happy patrons and today was no different.

Platter potatoes, calamari, pan-fried fish, prawns and oysters to your liking ($36.00). Everything on the plate was finished. I loved the potatoes, the calamari was tender without being oily, the prawns were plump and the fish was cooked perfectly. Unfortunately, the Kilpatrick oysters weren’t as grilled as I would have liked but the oysters themselves were fat and meaty.Hand made pasta with chilli, capers and crab meat ($30.00). I loved the texture of the pasta and it was cooked perfectly. The sauce had lots of flavour and a nice dose of chilli kick; I would happily eat either of these dishes.Garden salad ($5.00). A simple light salad that was well dressed and stifled our guilty conscious of eating something green in our meal.The service was attentive and food came out in a timely manner. I must go back again soon, I really do miss seafood.

 

Maestral Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Ta da!

Ta da! I call these ‘quick I need something to take to work for lunch’ quiches. They are like the finger food quiches that I have on my blog but instead I cut the puff pastry into quarters and throw them into a Texas muffin. It takes next to no time to prepare and are rather delicious.
#quicklunch #quiche #quickquichelunch #saythatthreetimesreallyfast

Any jam and almond tart recipe      

I haven’t forgotten about my New Year’s resolutions and I know the clock is fading fast, but I’ve been plugging along behind the scenes working away at the list.

I have a confession to make, for some reason I love buying jam. I don’t have something in mind to use it for, although I would love it if someone would make me fresh scones on a daily basis. I just like tasting it at markets, buying lots of different flavours and it just sits there in my cupboard begging to be used. Recently I bought a whole stash of Walsh’s homemade jam made in Boorowa and when I went to put them in the cupboard, I noticed I didn’t have any room left because it was filled with other jams, chutneys and relishes. I have a problem (one of many) but let’s work on that part later. When I found this recipe I was so happy that it was delicious and buttery, it was also a tart and best of all it used roughly a jar of jam!

This recipe for a tart base is so easy! I’ve used orange marmalade and peach and mango jam so far but I’m dying to try this with more of a berry style jam or Black Horse’s plum and cinnamon (which is one of my favourite jams).

Any jam and almond tart

Original recipe taken from here.

Ingredients

Filling

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 150g flaked almonds
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup of jam

Pastry base

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 225g plain flour
  • 3 tablespoons of chilled water
  • 4 tablespoons cornflour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Equipment

  • greased tart tin
  • saucepan
  • spatula

Method

  • Throw all the pastry ingredients into a food processor and process until a dough has just formed.
  • Press the dough into the tin and ensure an even surface. Refrigerate the dough in the tin for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C
  • Place all the filling ingredients except the jam into a saucepan on low heat, stirring until butter has melted and then set aside to cool
  • Take the tart tin out of the fridge and spread the jam over the pastry base and then layer the flaked almond mixture evenly on top and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden (keep your eye on the tart towards the end as the almonds can burn easily)

Tips

  • I’ve been making my tarts at 180C with a fan but I found after 25 minutes the almonds get very dark, maybe it is supposed to be 160C fac forced
  • Both time I’ve made this tart, I didn’t have time to wait for it to cool before taking it out of the tin; despite looking like a quick and easy recipe, you have to be patient and allow for some cooling period or you’ll end up with the corners crumbling in the tin and a not so pretty tart (like mine).
     Yes I realised I forgot to take a photo until after I put it in the ovenIt is lovely when it is warm; the jam is runny, the pastry is crumbly and the top is crunchy- yum. 

Tuesday eats, Sunday treats

I have had this idea when I first started my blog however many years ago and I have finally gotten around to writing it.

When I stayed with TimmyC’s family for a few years, his Mum thought it was ridiculous that there were so many able bodied people in the house yet she was cooking every night of the week. That’s when the concept of designated cooking was born.

We were all to choose one night of the week and cook dinner for the family. TimmyC and I chose Tuesdays as we were most likely to be home, his Dad chose Sundays, his brother flipped somewhere between Thursdays and Saturdays but we were never home to try his cooking and his Mum filled in the gaps. Fast forward a few years later, TimmyC and I had moved out but we kept with the tradition of Tuesday night dinners, his family would come over for dinner and they would bring dessert and we would go over on Sunday nights and it would be our turn to bring dessert. Hence the name: Tuesday eats, Sunday treats.

We have been cooking Tuesday dinners for over 7 years now and we attempt to mix it up a little, trying new things when we feel adventurous but now if I’m documenting Tuesday and Sundays maybe I’ll up the ante a bit more. It feels like we are on one of those cooking shows where they cook a meal in a time limit, TimmyC and I both work full time so dinner has to be made with less than 1.5hrs prep for 6-8 people (one could argue I could prep things the night before but we just aren’t that organised), two of which are vegetarian. I’m not vegetarian myself but I feel that just ‘omitting the meat’ doesn’t make the best vegetarian meal so I usually go out of my way to make another dish which is vegetarian friendly. When we come home, it looks like an Ajax commercial where we are frantically trying to prepare the meal, clear the dining table and set it for dinner guests.

When we first started cooking together, I remember yelling at TimmyC a lot. His cooking experience was limited and he would do silly things like walk around with a sieve full of icing sugar without anything underneath. Seven years later, we have both found our groove and work cohesively in the kitchen, cleaning up as we go (it’s the easiest way to do it) but I am still ‘head chef’ as TimmyC usually doesn’t know what we cooking until on the night, where as I have thought about the weather, what is in season, what vegetarian option would be equivalent and the most efficient order to do things in.


Tuesday eats

What better way to start than with last night’s Tuesday’s dinner (yes I’m posting this late). I’m still not feeling 100% so I chose the easy option of pasta bake as I had ample pasta, cheese and vegetables. Even at the age of 30 I have to ‘hide’ extra vegetables in my meal so I won’t notice it and this is definitely one meal that you can do that with. I usually make my own sauce but while I was at the shops buying a roast chicken I grabbed some pre-made pasta bake sauces as well *gasp*.

I sautéed some diced carrots, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, red capsicum corn kernels off the cob (basically all the vegetables I had) and garlic. I just wanted to soften the vegetables, cook the pasta, stir the sauce and vegetables through, throw it in a baking dish and top with ample cheese and throw it in the oven. That way all the oven has to do is melt the cheese because everything is already cooked and ready to go.

I would usually make another vegetarian dish but this was easy to substitute the meat for something else. I spooned enough mixture to fill a loaf dish into a bowl and threw in some diced grilled haloumi so there was a salty aspect to the dish and for the rest of the pot of pasta I stirred through some roast chicken pieces (all cooked and ready to go, all I had to do was shred the meat and eat the limbs as a perk of being in the kitchen, another aspect to make this dish ‘easy’).

The more colour the better! I also tossed in handfuls on basil that I had in the fridge, I should really stop buying it unless I have an intended use for it.Bread leaves the table as quickly as it is placed down so I usually have some sort of bread as a side. To contrast against so much carbs and heavy food, I wanted to serve dinner with a side of crispy refreshing salad. I looked up a recipe for apple and celery salad and came across one that had a tangy dressing to go with sweet apples. I also changed the dice of the apple and celery so it was matchsticks rather chunky like the pasta bake.

When we first made this dressing, I thought we would need more of it but it is rather quite strong so it only needs a light coating.I love a good golden brown cheesy top! I also added some sesame seeds for extra calcium.Dinner is served! The pasta bake sauce I used was a bit spicy and really lifted the flavours of vegetables and cheese.
Sunday treats

I get random cravings for sweet things and this week I wanted an apple tea cake with a crumble topping. It might sound really specific but I haven’t had cake like this before but it made it easy and specific to google. I used taste.com‘s recipe and accidentally whipped cold-ish butter with sugar and eggs rather than beating the eggs and sugar first and adding melted butter in. Silly me, I was multi-tasking and also making a chicken stock. It still turned out alright, I would have preferred a more moist cake but maybe it was the way I mis-read the instructions. I think I would make this again and maybe substitute some of the butter for apple sauce for a healthier option (and it might make it more moist?) and also change the crumble recipe for a more crunchy version. The apple tea cake with crumble topping was a little dry for my liking but I served it with TimmyC’s freshly made and still warm custard so you couldn’t tell.

A toast to toasting

Unless you have warm fresh bread, it is better to toast it, I mean who doesn’t love a good jaffle or humble toast with melted butter. So why can’ t the same be said for other items?

I love a good kitchen hack which is simple but has maximum effect for very little effort. I have found toasting sesame seeds and flaked almonds not only smells great but the taste completely changes and intensifies.

Toasted flaked almonds or sesame seeds

Ingredients/equipment:

  • Stove top
  • Pan or wok
  • Sesame seeds or flaked almonds

Method:

  1. Place your ingredient in the cold pan and turn on the stove
  2. Constantly shake the pan once it starts to become hot to brown everything evenly
  3. Once the ingredient has turned into a golden brown colour, turn off the stove and remove pan from heat

Serving suggestion and tips:

I generally throw the sesame seeds into a stir fry or noodles and flaked almonds go beautifully on top of yoghurt. I store unused toasted items in a jar or air tight container.

 

The colour contrast between toasted and untoasted.

Do you have other items that you like to toast or other simple kitchen hacks that you would like to share?

Stock is up but my blog loses out

I stand here in my kitchen nursing a chicken stock instead of productively writing my blog, which has a draft box that is about to explode at any minute. 

I was prepping dinner for tomorrow night’s dinner party and what I thought was chicken wings turned out to be drumsticks. Readers would know I’m a HUGE fan of chicken wings but I’m not so fussed on the drumsticks. After a quick reshuffle of menu items, I have decided to do a spaghetti bolognese for tomorrow and utilize the chicken drumsticks as a base for a stock. 

So here I am singing along to random love songs (thanks iTunes Radio) and skimming the fat off my stock. Things could be worse. 

Wait, this counts as a blog post… Maybe it’s a win win situation, although this isn’t helping my draft box. 

Have you ever bought the wrong ingredient and repurposed it for something else?

Pancake trial #1

The first thing that needs to be mentioned is that I broke the #1 rule when it comes to cooking in the kitchen- don’t do too much at once. So it probably wasn’t the best day to start frying up something new in the kitchen but it was Shrove Tuesday, I just told everyone about my New Year’s resolutions and I had to eat something for breakfast anyway. Simultaneously, I also had to make two different types of lasagne to feed 6 people and two separate lunches all before going to work, not to mention I had also slept in. A work friend had given TimmyC his favourite pancake recipe, so that’s where I started first. The recipe is from the Queen of food porn herself, Nigella Lawson and because I had zero idea, I followed it to the tee (to the best of my ability).


Nigella Lawson’s American Breakfast Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 30 grams butter (melted and cooled)
  • 300 ml milk
  • 225 grams plain flour
  • butter for frying

Method

  1. The easiest way to make these is to put all the ingredients into a blender and blitz. But if you do mix up the batter by hand in a bowl, make a well in the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar, beat in the eggs, melted butter and milk, and transfer to a jug: it’s much easier to pour the batter into the pan than to spoon it.
  2. Heat a smooth griddle or pan on the stove.
  3. When you cook the pancakes, all you need to remember is that when the upper side of the pancake is blistering and bubbling it’s time to cook the second side, and this needs only about 1 minute, if that.
  4. I get about 16 silver-dollar-sized pancakes out of this.

I had thrown all the wet ingredients in my mixing bowl before remembering to make a well in my dry ingredients, which might account for the small butter clusters that I had, or maybe I didn’t cool it enough? I transferred my pancake mixture in a jug to allow for easy pouring and less mess, this is one thing I learnt from all the ‘pancake shake’ bottles. I found that I had to constantly change the heat of my pan to avoid burning my butter or pancake, although there was one time I was not paying attention and my pancake was a little browner than I would have liked. For me, this made around 10x 10cm diameter pancakes, which was good because I didn’t want to be eating pancakes of the next few days. I was amazed about how well this mixture cooked and made flipping the pancake super easy. I would definitely try this recipe again and maybe pay more attention next time. The yellow lumps don’t look promising but I’m frying them up anyway!IMG_9788Bubbles are forming, that’s a good sign.IMG_978750 shades of brown, all the various pancakes that I made that morning, you can tell which one I left on a little too long. I don’t love the look of the crispy edges, but sure do love the texture of them.IMG_9822 Of course I did the foodie cheat thing and put the prettiest pancake on top of my stack and instagrammed it immediately. 0:)IMG_9802 These pancakes tasted pretty good with just maple syrup but next time I might make cinnamon mascarpone, because everything tastes better with cimmon mascarpone. The first thing I needed to do was prove to myself that I could flip a pancake without it breaking into a million shards (the last pancakes I made were from a recipe I saw on instagram; tasted delicious but looked like I was trying to pan fry sloppy soggy oats. Recipe: 1 banana, 1 egg, 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1/4 tsp baking powder, pinch of salt, and some cinnamon. Blend until smooth, fry spoonfuls of batter in butter) I can only improve from here.

Dyslexia rewards

I’ve been talking to my sister about stealing her T2 chai tea but my Mum for some reason thought I wanted chia seeds and therefore bought me a huge bag of it when she went to Costco. Bless her cotton socks; she dragged it all the way back on the train in her little trolley so I couldn’t refuse it.

I have zero idea of what to do with it (so any ideas would be welcome!). It wasn’t until my sister requested homemade granola for her birthday did I think to sneak some in. The chia seeds didn’t add anything taste wise but it is supposed to be very good for you. My whole house now smells like maple syrup. Yum!Chia, chai… Let’s call the whole thing off!IMG_9377

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